Not all pain is physical. There are some forms of hurt that are not physical, but which the sufferer would gladly exchange for all the torments of a Medieval dungeon. The existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard writes about one of these cases – probably one of the worst that can be imagined. When God tells Abraham to go and sacrifice his only son Isaac, the love of his life, he might as well have told Abraham to set himself on fire.
Now, there is no way to discuss all the aspects of this command of God on this single page (Kierkegaard and many others wrote entire books about it), but we can set aside a moment to just try and imagine how Abraham suffered. There was no quick ride to the place of execution, no gun to put the boy down, perhaps surreptitiously from behind. It was a long walk, and it must have felt like a thousand-mile journey.
Today, people still suffer emotional pain — perhaps more than ever. Think about what a mother goes through when her child is abducted; what she suffers until the body is found — or not found.
Perhaps you have suffered this kind of pain or are in its clutches as you read this. That is why I ask every reader of this book to pray with me for people whose pain is inside, where only they face it in the small hours. If you yourself are in that number — we are praying for you.