27 Feb Find Purpose In The Pain
No matter what your job is or what kind of house you live in, you have experienced pain. Pain and brokenness are everywhere! Those who say they do not have some form of pain are lying to themselves and to you. Whatever the source of our pain may be, it distorts our view of the world. It affects how we view and relate to ourselves, to other people, and to God.
On a number of occasions, I have heard Pastor Chuck Swindoll state something to the effect of God’s school being a sacred school of brokenness. The idea goes something like this: when God wants to use somebody greatly, He breaks them (think of pain). He does this so that in their new state of humility, they will serve Him more and themselves less.
Our flesh tells us to run from pain. We go to great lengths to resist it. Whenever we do go through trials that break us, we end up leaning on worldly crutches to get through. God’s desire is to remove all crutches except Himself. Proverbs 14:12 conveys the message that we are free to choose how many crutches we will have, and free to choose when and how we will use them. But do not mistake that for freedom to choose the consequences of using those crutches. When our flesh is crushed by pain and we rely solely on the Spirit of God to carry us, we understand the meaning of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians: His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness.
In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet pours out his heart to God wondering why He allows there to be so much violence and destruction. He goes on to ask how long they will have to cry out to Him. Is this where you are today? I get it. If we are honest, we have all been in that position—utter despair, hopelessness, and anger as to why things have to remain so messed up. It may be hard to imagine at this point in your life, but there is a God who loves you, and because of that, there is hope.
The truth of the matter is that God is up to something bigger than we can imagine. His desire is not to just heal an addiction, distressed marriage, financial crisis, or whatever pain you are experiencing—His plan is to give us a life of peace, freedom, and purpose beyond anything that we have ever imagined possible through His Son Jesus Christ. No matter how hurt or trapped you are, God does have a plan for you. He loves you and desires to set you free so that you will experience true freedom in Him. In Him, you can be truly content, no matter what your painful outward circumstances might be.
People tend to isolate in their pain, and I would contend that this is one of the enemy’s goals: isolation from the body of Christ. Perhaps you avoid pain by surrounding yourself with shallow relationships or empty tasks. The shame of not having it all together while everyone around us is seemingly doing so well can keep us from revealing ourselves to others. But God brings purpose to our pain when we live in true community.
Community is not just people being together—we can be surrounded by people and still be lonely and lost. True community is being known and loved despite your struggles and pain. A good community will not only allow you to love others, but it will help you to better love yourself and see God’s love for you.
I encourage you to be courageous to let others into your life and see the purpose in your pain. Share your story of brokenness and redemption with people, and listen as they share their stories with you. Do not try to fix the situation; just be present with them in the moment and look to identify where God is working through your pain.
Written by Daniel Lebsack, associate pastor of recovery ministries