Consider yourself warned: Major Spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp ahead. Major.
Pain hurts. (No duh.) But far beyond the literal meaning of the pain you are experiencing (whether physical or mental or emotional), it can have many secondary effects as well, and the pain can grow and multiply. Pain can distance and separate us from those around us. Pain is largely gone through alone, and it’s difficult for others who haven’t gone through it to understand. Having people not understand hurts, and having people not even care is worse. Pain is isolating, and roots of bitterness and resentment can quickly grow.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Ant-Man and the Wasp was a fantastic Marvel movie. Not just for the plot, the humour, or the adorable father-daughter relationship (though those were all certainly high points for me!). One of the things I liked best, is that the main villain wasn’t really a villain. Ava Starr (or Ghost) comes onto the scene like a villain, attacking our heroes and stealing valuable equipment from them. But we soon find out that she isn’t doing it just to screw up their plan or use their equipment for some diabolical plot of her own. She is a broken person. She was hit by tragedy at a young age, and used and abused for other people’s gain throughout her life. And now she’s just trying to fix herself.
Okay, so basically without too much confusing (semi-fake) science talk, here is the main plot points (for those of you who haven’t seen the movie but are continuing to read this anyway):
Scott Lang (Ant-Man), Dr. Hank Pym (super smart scientist), and Hope Van Dyne (Wasp, Pym’s daughter) are trying to rescue Janet Van Dyne (Pym’s wife and Hope’s mother) from the “quantum realm” (basically another reality), where she has been trapped for many years.
Due to an accident as a child, Ava is trapped in flux between our world and the quantum realm, not fully existing in either place, which causes incredible pain. She has discovered a cure: to siphon the quantum energy from Janet, which will kill her.
Beyond the extreme physical pain, Ava struggles with trusting people, and is under a great amount of mental and emotional pain. She is on a quest for healing. No one has ever really cared for her since this all happened, so she doesn’t really care what happens to anyone else, as long as she can be fixed.
Seeing is Healing
So here come the major MAJOR spoilers:
Our heroes save Janet. Everyone is elated. Except Ava who has lost her last chance at restoration and is utterly hopeless. After being reunited with her family, Janet sees Ava. She goes to her and says, “Wait. Your pain...I can feel it. It hurts. It always hurts. I'm sorry. I think I can help you.” And (more sciencey stuff that isn’t really science) she touches Ava’s head and uses her quantum energy to heal her.
Ava was healed. She was healed of her physical pain. But healing began in her heart as well. Someone had helped her without expecting anything in return. Someone had seen her, and understood her pain. She wasn’t alone.
Pain hurts the most when you think you’re going through it alone.
In Genesis 16 we find the story of Hagar. Abram and Sarai are trying to have a child, a child God has promised them, and are unable to. Sarai comes up with the brilliant idea, instead of waiting for God, to have a child through one of their slaves. She gives her slave, Hagar, to Abram, and Hagar becomes pregnant. Sarai becomes jealous and treats Hagar poorly. (Girl, WHAT DO YOU WANT??) Abram doesn’t want to take sides against his wife, so he leaves the situation alone.
The woman who gave Hagar away doesn’t care about her. The man who slept with her doesn’t care about her. Who else is left to care? She runs away.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.
The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”
And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” – Genesis 16:7-13 NLT
The One Who Sees Pain
Hagar’s pain isolated her, to the point where it was easier to be alone, than to be around others and feel alone. She thought no one saw her and the pain she was feeling. But God did. He heard her cries. He saw her pain. He saw her. Nothing about her or what she was going through was hidden or mysterious to Him. He gave her hope and comfort. This is the only occurrence in the Bible of the title El roi – the God who sees me.
Another of my favourite stories like this comes from John 4. Jesus is traveling with his disciples through Samaria and met a woman at the well. She is alone and hurting and probably used to not being seen. But Jesus sees her. He talks to her. He knows everything about her, good and bad. And he offers her hope. Her life is made new.
Your Pain is Seen
Pain is part of life, unfortunately. I’ve felt it. And often in the middle of it, it feels like no one has ever felt the pain I’m in. And sometimes there isn’t anyone on earth who understands the exact pain I’m going through. But Jesus does.
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me. – Psalm 139:7-10 NLT
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. – Psalm 121:8 NLT
Just like Ava, Hagar, and the woman at the well, pain unseen is felt deeply and is allowed to continue. But when someone takes a small moment to see you and understand you, healing can begin. That seeing and healing can come at the hands of a fellow person, but the best healing comes from knowing that the God who made us and is Lord over all sees us, too.
Has there been a time when you were seen and it allowed you to heal? Is there someone that you can see today, and help them in their pain?