PAIN: PART OF LIFE’S PACKAGE

We all encounter pain and no one is exempt; pain is no respecter of persons. A visit to the local pharmacy serves to remind us we live in a pain conscious society. The shelves are lined with products that promise to relieve or reduce pain in our body; alleviating pain is a multi-billion dollar industry and still growing.

Our experience with pain can be physical, mental or emotional. Pain is part of being human and as much as we try to isolate ourselves from pain, we find it is part of life’s package. As long as we are in this earthly body, we deal with pain coming into our life.

Sometimes pain is of short duration; we know it will eventually go away with time. Then there is pain from an unknown source; the kind of pain that requires attention. It could be physical or emotional, but the symptoms are a signal something is definitely wrong; we need to take measures to do something about it.

There are times in our life when God will use our pain as a mean to work His purpose and good into our life. Proverbs 20: 30, (GNV) “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change.”

Pain spurs us into action. Have you ever had a toothache? How long did it take you to move into action and see a dentist? In the parable of the prodigal son, it was the pangs of hunger that motivated him to return home. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!”  (Luke 15:17)

Pain can force us to make change even when we don’t want to change. I have witnessed this over and over in my life. There was the divorce I didn’t want, the lost job, death of family and friends, overcoming addictions; we each can make a list of all the things that have caused us pain. And in looking back, I see God used some of those moments of pain to guide me. Just like a bit is used in a horse’s mouth to turn them; there are times when God uses the (bit) pain to turn us in different directions.

Psalms 119:71-72 (LB), says,”…It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws.”

God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pain.  A bit in the mouth of a horse is used to get their attention. Pain coming into our life is used of God to get our attention. Someone has said, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pain.” He is saying, “I want your attention.” It doesn’t always take a lot of pain to get our attention. Just as a little rudder can turn a big ship–sometimes just a little pain in our life can lead us into a new direction.

In the medical field, there is a scale used to rate pain. It is also one of the measuring tools God uses to help us see what we are like on the inside.  It’s been said that people are like tea bags; you don’t know what is in them until you drop them in hot water. Pain is one of the measuring tools God uses to help us see what we’re like on the inside. We don’t really know what’s inside of us until we face the test of pain. The bible often compares pain to a refining fire. Fire is used to refine gold and silver. As the gold and silver are heated, they begin to melt and all the impurities rise to the surface where they can be scooped off. God uses the pain that comes into our life to bring out the impurities that perhaps we weren’t aware was there. “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48: 10 (NIV))

I believe you will agree it is impossible to maintain an image when you are in pain. James 1: 2-3, (The Message) … when tests and challenges come at you from all sides… your faith, your life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character and to find out whether or not you would really obey his commandments.”  (Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT)

Someone has said, “Pain is the high cost of growth.” We grow far deeper and greater, not on the mountaintop but in the valley in the face of stress and pressure coming into our life.

“For when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow; so let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems….then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.” (James 1:4 LB)

You see, we don’t know that Jesus Christ is all we need until Jesus Christ is all we’ve got. Apostle Paul says it like this in I Corinthians 1:9 as he was talking about pain he had experienced. “This happened…so we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God.”

If you are experiencing hurt and pain in your life today, ask yourself these questions.

1) Father, are your trying to motivate and call me into action?

2) Father, are you using this to guide me, to point me in a new direction?

3) Father, is my pain a way to help me to measure myself and see what I’m really like on the inside? It is a call-out for change?

4) Father, are you using this to grow me, to bring maturity and commitment into my life, so that I reflect the character of Jesus Christ?

God’s answer to all these questions will be a resounding, yes. God has dedicated himself to work for the good of the believer in everything life brings, (and that includes pain.) “But we know that for those who love Him; for those called in agreement with his purpose, God makes all things work together for good.”  (Romans 8:28)

There are moments in life when pain brings gain.

It takes little effort to embrace and believe in the warm, fuzziness of God. It’s the accountability part we often overlook; the part where God requires us to align our life in obedience to His Word. That requires a great deal of effort.

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