I use to hear that on the softball field or in the exercise room. Later in life I would hear doctors say that pain equals something bad and that it is a signal to back off. So what changed? Were the coaches wrong or misguided? Or were they just talking about a different kind of pain?
Listening to how everyone complains about how much they hurt is sometimes annoying for me. The other day I observed a woman holding her abdomen clearly in pain and wanting someone to acknowledge her for it. I didn’t because I didn’t want to have that conversation but why was she doing that? Was she looking for sympathy? Was she in real need? I’m not sure. She continued on so it must not have been that dire or did she just push through it?
Pain and suffering are a fact of life just like death and taxes as my dear departed grandmother used to say. But they too have a purpose. So instead of looking at this sometimes grim subject grimly, I decided to look at the positive things that can come from life’s pain and suffering.
Pain and Suffering has the ability reshape us. Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV) “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” God will purify and refine us. He can take our weaknesses and make them into strengths. We have to be willing to see them as weaknesses and be willing to turn them into something useful instead. If we continue to hide our candles (weaknesses) under a basket, our flames (growth) will be snuffed out.
Pain and Suffering has the ability to create spiritual maturity. James 1:2-4 (NKJV) “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The more we rely on God and allow Him to take care of us, the easier it becomes. It should be a natural thing when something goes wrong for us to look up and say to God, “You got this Father” and let Him have it.
Pain and Suffering has the ability to prepare us to comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV) “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.” Think about it. Can someone who has not suffered offer you hope?
Pain and Suffering has the ability to bring us closer to God. Job 42:5 (NKJV) “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” Have you noticed that the more you talk to someone the closer you become to them? The relationships we have can truly be measured by the amount of interaction we have with each person. The true friendships are the unique ones. Like my friends in North Carolina I don’t talk to but once every few months or sometimes less. We are old friends and can pick up where we left off no matter how few times we speak to one another. But our regular relationships suffer if we don’t interact on a regular basis. Our relationship with God works the same way.
There have been times in my life when I stop and wonder to myself what could God be doing that He is so busy that we haven’t spoken much lately. Yes, I chuckle a little because I know it is me, then I cry a little because I know it is me. Then I apologize to Him and my prayer life gets back on track, for a while. But this is human nature. It is something we have to work hard at because life is hard.
Pain and Suffering has the ability to mold us further into the image of God. Romans 8:28-29 (NKJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” God did not forsake Jesus, He raised Him three days later. It was His purpose and He knew it.
We will endure pain and suffering of various kinds. Hopefully we will use our experiences to comfort and encourage others along the way. I know Jesus suffered unbearable pain but looking back I also have to believe he finds it was worth His inheritance. I would never compare my pain to what He felt but I can tell you, it will be worth it no matter how bad it gets.
Stay safe and God bless.