“Pain, Pain Go Away” Part 1

I guess the most basic statement you can make about pain, either physical or emotional, is that it hurts. It can range from unpleasant or uncomfortable to excruciatingly debilitating. And for some reason, no matter where your pain falls on that spectrum, it can make your life miserable to one degree or another.

I recently went through something that was physically painful and I found that the pain I was experiencing occupied my thoughts almost constantly. If it wasn’t in the very forefront of my mind, it was at least a lingering presence in the background of everything I was doing or thinking. I found that it brought out the worst in me. I was short-tempered, self-pitying and unable to think of the needs of others. It even affected my inward being in that I began to feel a sense of hopelessness and discouragement. In reality, the pain was revealing things in my heart that I can normally keep at bay when life is rolling smoothly along. Yet being in this crucible of sorts was exposing sin in my life that I couldn’t ignore. It was ugly and depressing.

It got me to thinking: what if I had to live in constant pain? What kind of person would I be to live with? What else would be revealed about my heart if I was asked to endure that burden over a long period of time? This is not an inconceivable situation. Many people that I know personally, and millions more around the world live with physical or emotional pain or infirmity on a continual basis. So what would happen if I would be put to the same test?

In considering this question I was reminded of James 1:2 & 3 which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of various kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” It’s one of those verses that is easy to share with someone else who is suffering, but much harder to swallow when you need to apply it to your own life’s circumstances. So there I was having to endure physical pain for a few short weeks, and I had to ask myself, “Can I find joy in the midst of my pain?”

I don’t know if I reached a state of joy, but a certain level of acceptance (by God’s grace) eventually sunk in. And despite the fact that my physical suffering was short-lived, I do think that God revealed several things to me in the midst of it that I must tuck away for trials to come. Here are a few of the things that I learned…

– Trials and hardships are most easily endured with the love, support and fellowship of other believers. This realization came when I found myself wallowing alone in self-pity, consumed with my own thoughts, needs and tunnel vision. Spending time talking with and being with other Christian women, family and friends gave me a different perspective on things, showed me a light at the end of the tunnel, and lightened my burden. God worked through the love and care of his people to help me find peace and hope in the midst of my circumstances.

– Trials will reveal what’s already in my heart. This was an unpleasant but necessary reminder that my sin can be masked, minimized or buried when life is going well for me. The fire of pain, however, strips away the pretenses and reveals who I really am. Though this can be discouraging, even depressing, it gives us the chance to do some self-examination before the Lord and deal with sin that has been ignored.

– Trials in the life of a believer, if handled with humility and grace, can result in God using us in the lives of others. Pain is often wrapped up in senseless tragedy that appears to have no purpose. But 2 Corinthians 1:3-12 opens up a whole new perspective on the meaning our pain can have. It says that “The God of all comfort…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” This birds eye view on our troubles often does not come until after the trial has passed, but it does allow us to see that our trials have given us a certain wisdom and training that we can pass on to others in similar situations.

I’d like to continue to explore this topic of pain and suffering and what impact it can have in our lives if we see it from God’s perspective. Can we really live with difficult circumstances in any other mindset besides “Pain, pain go away”? Join me in my next blog as we continue to search for the purpose and meaning that God may intend our trials to have in our lives.

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