"When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots." Luke 23:33-34 (NIV)
In the middle of the most agonizing pain an individual can endure, Jesus is thinking about the good of others. Instead of trying to defend himself or entertain feelings of revenge, Jesus asks His Father's forgiveness for those who are nailing His hands and feet to wooden execution tool. When He should be overwhelmed with His pain, He is overwhelmed with the needs of His executioners — their need for forgiveness.
Pain has a way of causing us to think only of ourselves. Jesus shows us a better way through the pain. With the Father's grace, Jesus was able to attend to the needs of others, during what appeared to be His most significant trial. He shows us that pain should awaken us to the suffering of others. He shows us that looking outward, to the spiritual need of others, while experiencing our pain is possible.
Jesus chose to focus on a higher reality. The reality that his pain was temporary while the torment of his executioners would be eternal. When we are experiencing a temporary pain, we should focus on what Jesus did - the eternal pain that awaits those lost and still in their sins around us. Pain is not an excuse to stop looking to love and serve others; instead, it should be a reminder to the truth that our pain is not the only pain. It should awaken us to the reality that others around us are also in pain and that often their pain is spiritual and not just physical.
Like Jesus, may we desire to intercede before our heavenly Father and pray for them. Pray for God's grace to work in their lives. Pray for their salvation. Pray for their forgiveness. Our pain should cause us to pray for the pain of others and not just our own.
Lord Jesus, help me to permit pain to move me from self-centeredness to others-centeredness. Give me the grace to be awakened to the needs of others when I find myself in pain. Amen.