My brother and I had a trampoline when we were younger. We would spend hours on that thing catapulting each other into the air, practicing flips, and play fighting. One day we have two bamboo sticks for some reason, I don’t know where we got them and I don’t know what led us to using them on the trampoline, but we did and I eventually paid for it. While we were pretending the bamboo sticks were swords, my brother decided to take it to the next level and joust. Since we didn’t have a plan in place, I had no idea he was going to stab me in the eye. That event was years ago, but I still cringe at the thought of how it felt and how my eye looked after the incident. My eye was black and blue and I cried blood. It wasn’t the best feeling ever and to this day it remains as one of the most physically painful situations I have ever been in.
A lot of us don’t know how to react in times of pain. Some of us clam up and close ourselves off from the rest of the world. Others of us blame God or others for what we’re going through. God uses pain as a megaphone into our lives to get our attention, because even though we have pain, God can turn it into something good (Romans 8:28). I want to take a few moments and discuss three things that will help us gain from our pain.
Many people become familiar with pain so much so that they don’t know anything different. My mother kept coming back to my dad even though it was a toxic relationship and caused nothing but pain for everyone, but it was all she knew. A lot of us don’t realize that we can use our pain to draw closer to God. Instead of putting ourselves through these difficult situations time and time again, we can fix our eyes on God and draw near to Him (James 4:8). God is faithful to deliver us in our difficult times, just look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. Toward the end of this section, he says, “He has delivered us from the pain and he will do it again and again.” We can gain from our pain when we use our pain to grow closer to God.
Pain is always an opportunity to grow in character. We grow in the fruit of the Spirit by experiencing and overcoming the things we struggle with. You struggle with patience? You’ll get plenty of chances to sharpen your ears and tongue with rude coworkers or family members. You struggle with having peace in your life? You’ll most definitely have a bit of chaos going on to help you grow in peace. Jesus learned obedience from suffering and he learned to do the right thing desire what it would cost him. God can use suffering to display his work in you. We can gain from our pain when we use our pain to become more like Jesus.
We often think the world is impressed with how we handle success. We see stories like Tim Tebow taking a stand for Christ and being mocked for it, but he still carries himself with a confidence that overshadows all the negative comments and haters. To an extent, the world can be impressed with how we handle our success, but the world is even more impressed with how we handle our failures. I can tell you a standalone story of how I ran a race in high school and beat the best guy in our region or state and felt amazing because I was the underdog, but who cares? How would that story edify the church at all? I can tell you a story of how God used my broken story to make His name known and that story would uplift the Body. The world is looking very closely at how we handle our failure, because they want to see us fail. The world wants to see us get angry at God and curse his name. The world wants to see us upset and depressed and flee from God in our desperate hour, because they want to prove Him wrong. We can gain from our pain when we use our pain to witness to the world.
Jesus never said we were exempt from pain because we believe in him. We have a unique position as followers of Jesus in that we get to use our pain for good. I hear nonbelievers all the time talk about their pain. They get mad at themselves, others or the government and can’t seem to find solace in the chaos of life. What would it look like this week if you went to someone you knew was hurting and sat with them and listened to their story? What would happen this week if instead of posting your problems on Facebook, you used your problems in a positive light: “I’m struggling but God is still good.” What would it look like if you took your pain and used that to be your biggest ministry to point others to Jesus? We can do this. We can gain from our pain.
Romans 8:28 / James 4:8 / 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 / Hebrews 5:8-9 / Philippians 1:12-14