Purpose in the Pain
It can be difficult to overlook the tragedies in life and not ask questions like:
"Why did that have to happen?"
"What was the purpose in that?"
"Why do bad things happen to good people?"
"How can a "good" god allow suffering?"
And many many other questions similar to those. I have asked those very questions in my own life. And as a follower of Christ there was never a clear answer. The closest answer I could resolve in my mind was the often cited "we live in a broken and fallen world." And while that is true, I have learned through my own tragedies and pain that there is always a deeper purpose involved. Books have been written on these subjects, and im not going to try and tackle all the deep philosophical answers here (nor do I have such answers). But rather encourage you to hold out through the pain in your life, knowing there is a purpose.
Another popular Christian phrase is "God can turn the worst of events to good." And I have to say that this is a true statement. But our struggle isn't believing when we are pain free, but when we are drowning in it. When it feels like there is never going to be an end. And day after day you just hurt. Some of you may still be carrying pain from events that happened years ago in your life. And im convinced that some forms of pain may never heal entirely. But Jesus did not die for us to live in pain. But to give us life, and that; more abundantly. If we can discipline our minds to understanding His heart, we can better know how He works in us despite our darkest nights. There is always purpose in the pain. Here are a few examples of godly men and women who experienced different levels of pain in their lives. And each one had an incredible purpose. Keep in mind that they didn't get to read their own stories ahead of time to see how things would ever turn out.
Abraham is cited as one of the greater men of faith in the Bible. God told him to go to a land set aside for him and the generations that would follow him. But God didn't tell him where to go! So he just started walking blindly with his family following suit. One thing I know about men, is that most have a fear of failure. Did he really know it was God's leading? And if so, why no directions? Two words - blind faith. He was also promised to be the father of so many generations that it would outnumber the sand on the seashore. Yet he was old and his wife was past the age of childbearing. Twenty some years later he eventually had the son that God promised. Let that number sink in! If God gives you a promise at even age 60 for a kid you haven't had yet, would you expect to see it happen as you approached 80. But that wasn't all! Then some time later God asked him to sacrifice his only child to him (the very one he waited all that time for). I don't know about you, but i'd say Abraham had a tough mental resolve. That's some crazy mind games!
How about David, the man after God's own heart. His life was full of crazy. He was betrayed, hunted for years for his very life. He had to live in caves. There was a short pause in the pain when he and his small following were able to finally settle down. They started families, and then some invaders came in and pillaged everything. They killed their spouses and kids and left nothing but ashes after burning everything to the ground. Sometime later in his life, his own son tried to overthrow him and kill him, and yet in turn lost that very son (who he loved and refused to attack himself). David had much more happen than these things. And through him would come the genealogy of Christ.
Job lost everything - literally. And was himself stricken with nasty boils all over his body. And he sat in a pile of ashes wearing nothing but sackcloth, damning the day he was born. But he still never cursed God.
Ruth was a godly woman who lost her husband early on and became a widow. And left all she knew to travel to a strange town. She had no clue what her future held, or what she would do when she got there. Yet through her children's children, Jesus would be born.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. And accused of attempting to rape his masters mistress. And became a great leader of one of the largest nations in his day. As well as being the lineage of Jesus.
In the New Testament, all the disciples but one ended up martyrs for Christ. Beaten, tortured, shipwrecked etc. To be the founder's of the church, and the writers of the Bible. And even our Lord himself was abandoned by everyone who loved Him. He sweat drops of blood in agony of the anticipation of what He knew lie ahead for Him. The only time in the Bible where we see Jesus shaken and ask God to allow the pain to pass from Him. But because of His understanding of the greater purpose, he said:
"Not my will, but your's be done"
Pain is a guarantee in life no matter who you are. And im just now coming to the understanding that there may truly be a deeper purpose to my own life tragedies. And let me express that when I say pain it doesn't have to be tragic events only. It could be something considered less "tragic" but for you, it feels like all you can take. Pain is pain. No matter what brought it about. I want to spend the rest of this post laying out some things God has been showing me through my own painful journey's. I pray that you begin to see the purpose He has despite the pain you are living in.
Pain causes you to lose your perspective
The very first thing pain always does to me, is cause me to lose all my perspective. No matter how much faith I had prior to the painful experience, my whole world is thrown into confusion. And the very things I believed God for, or stood on are up "for questioning." And once I lose my perspective it's much easier to go into irrational panic mode. And suddenly im pulling at every straw around me that I can find to change the course of the event. Which nearly every time is already out of my control anyway. And pain inevitably has it's way. So i've learned recently that I cannot lose my perspective despite my circumstances. I can't allow God to become any less powerful because the storms of life have found me yet again.
Pain makes me doubt. It creates fear. And fear robs me of my trust in the only One that saves. I'm thoroughly convinced the most powerful forces that wage war against us are the ones that can get us to trust God less. In many ways, anytime you read the word "faith" in the Bible you could substitute that word for "trust." To be a "born again" believer in Jesus we "give" our lives to Him. But the longer I walk this thing out, the more I realize I can only truly give him two things: 100% trust and obedience. In whatever may befall me. I have begun to realize that those two principles are the manifestation of my "giving my life" to Him. I believe the process is something like this: we pray to receive Christ and a seed is planted called "desire". We all want to live for Him. But the main obstacle standing in our way is life itself. Because to give him our "life" we have to trust Him, and be obedient to His "best" way. If only it were that easy right? If only failure, loss, fear, rejection, and the unknown didn't stand in our way.
Now, chances are we won't fully understand the purpose behind our pain until we have walked all the way through it (if at all in some cases). There is a story in the New Testament where Jesus and His disciples encounter a blind man. The disciples asked Him who had sinned (who brought this form of bad karma upon him basically) that he would be born blind. And Jesus responded, that no one had sinned but that the man was born blind that the purpose of God would be fulfilled through - his healing! That's insane! He was born and lived blind his entire life to encounter God. Which led to his purpose all along, which was to be healed. Which was to validate Christ as Son of God. What an unforeseen purpose that guy had!
When I look back 17 years and wonder why my childhood sweetheart had to die because of something as stupid as a drunk driving incident. I realize that the many lives who were touched by the life her and her sister lived (ones sold out to the purpose of Christ) now knew what they knew. And many of them came to the same understanding I (and they) did: that God's love is so real and tangible. That once you truly encounter it, there is nothing else in this world or life that you will want.
I'm going to give you all the answer to realizing your purpose through your pain. Jesus. That's it. He is refining in you what He did in everyone before you, including the ones I mentioned from the Bible earlier. Your value and purpose is so much greater than you could ever imagine! For those of you surrendering it all even in the midst of your deepest tear's. I stand with you. I am in your shoes as I write this. Some of you reading this are living in unnecessary pain because you won't let it go.
"Are you losing out on God's provision because you don't trust His process?" - Steven Furtick
Will you miss out on God's blessings, because you won't let Him fight your battles? Will you make the decision right now, to trust God with all your heart - no matter how hurt and broken it is. And lean not on your own understanding of how He will bring beauty from your ashes. Will you trust Him enough to start walking by faith (trusting Him) and not by your own physical sight or emotions. Don't lose your perspective! I know it hurts! I can't tell you how many times i've brutally wept and told God it was too much for me to bear. If you haven't seen God's hand move in your life, could it be that you don't trust Him enough to work in your life? Have you heard that saying "I only trust them as far as I can throw them." Is that where you stand with God in the midst of your pain? Some pain is unnecessary like David's, Jonah's, or Samson's. You can't disobey God's ways and expect to see God's blessings as though you had obeyed. I'm not trying to condemn anyone, but let's be real. Some of us take credit for the advancements in our lives but blame God for the adversity. Which brings me to this last question:
"When you hear the word of God in your life, is it an invitation
or an interruption." - Steven Furtick
Do you run the other way? Or do you say have your way Lord. You won't have it both ways. Again, not trying to condemn anyone. But truth is truth. And unfortunately I have fallen into that category in my own life. Where I knew what I was choosing. And somehow, looking back im perplexed to think I would have experienced a different outcome than the painful one I ended up in. But even then, God had a purpose.
What might be the purpose for some of us? Here is one possibility (of many - God chooses them). But one thing pain does is give you an experience and wisdom that someone will need one day. It makes you a mentor of sorts. Let's say you lost or suffered "X". Which spoke to "X". Which helped them overcome in their life when "X" happened. Then they become like you in their ability to help the next person God puts in their life.
It's when broken people help broken people discover the love and power of God that can rescue and restore beyond anything and everything else!
There is purpose in the pain friends! Hold on to Him with all you have! Trust Him with a ferocity that can't be shaken no matter how bad the storm or pain gets. I'm praying for anyone and everyone that reads this. That you would know His heart of love for you, and sense the greater purpose He has for you. Even if you can't see it clearly through the pain just yet.