man in dispair

Everyone has pain in this earthly life.  No one is immune.  It is impossible to outrun the pain, because the pain will always find its target.  Therefore, the question is not, “How can I alleviate my pain?”, but rather, “Do people see Jesus in the midst of my pain?”  As God continues to prune and refine my fleshly rebellious heart, He is teaching me that my pain always has purpose.  Now, when the trials of life begin to mount, I must confess that this phrase that “my pain has purpose” is much easier said than actually lived-out.  However, as the fog of the trials of life continue to hover near the surface of our brokenness, our overarching goal must be that in the midst of our pain, that people will see the glory of God radiating with splendor and on full display.  But how do we live victoriously in the midst of one struggle after another?


First, we must embrace that it is God who has graciously given us our trials.  I realize that this statement is counter to our fleshly rational human thinking, but it is biblical.  Paul said in Philippians 1:29-30 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”  God grants or graces us with the privilege to not just bask in the power of Christ’s resurrection, but to also partake in the fellowship of His sufferings.


Secondly, we must embrace that our pain has purpose beyond us.  Beyond us?  You mean that even my pain may not be completely about just me?  How this rubs our selfish flesh raw!  Often, we want even our pain to be just about us.  The reality is that no one is a bigger fan of us, than us, and yet even our pain is not always about us.  Therefore, when we go through a trial, one of the biggest challenges is not the actual trial, but to shift the viewfinder from ourselves to a laser beam focus on God and then others’.  As Paul was writing to the church in Corinth, he reminded them that their pain has purpose beyond themselves when he said in 1 Corinthians 1:3-5, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”  Simply put, your pain is not just for you.  Don’t hoard your pain.  Your pain is empathy training ground for effective ministry as we minister best out of our trials.


Lastly, we must embrace that we are to give God our heartfelt thanksgiving in all things.  Who honestly wants to do this?  Praise God in the storm?  Really?   Genuinely thank God for the trials that He has graciously lavished upon us?  Seriously?  Yes.  Anyone can praise God on the mountain top when all is seemingly well.   And yet, it’s fully possible that we are not in the center of God’s will.  One of the biggest traps in the American church today is this ideology that if we pursue God, everything will be easy and everyone will be for us.  I’m not sure what bible this idea has evolved from, but it is not from The Bible that is God’s Holy Word.   The Psalmist David penned these potent words in Psalm 34:1 when he said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Those are big-boy words that can only be accomplished as the Holy Spirit empowers us to give thanks and praise God not because of ideal circumstances, but in-spite of all circumstances.

Do the people around you see God in the midst of your pain?  As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  Be encouraged in the battle and do not lose heart as you keep the hand to the plow and don’t look back!

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