Embrace Your Pain

todd shupe

I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death” (Psalm 88:3 NIV).

 

We have all experienced pain and loss.  Yours may be different from mine but all pain is real and raw.  I think it is hard for most of us to consider pain as pure joy.  Scripture sets a high standard for us in this regard.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

We are who we are today based on (1) what we have experienced, which certainly includes our pain and (2) how have we resolved our pain.  The second item is particularly important because that is where we begin to see differences between people.   For some, the pain remains unresolved and perhaps is numbed by drugs and alcohol.  Maybe its just tucked away and not talked about but lingers.  Pain often becomes a defining moment in the life of a Christian.  It will either bring you closer to God or pull you away. 

We begin to gain a better understanding of our pain when we realize that our time on earth is so very brief but so essential to prepare and equip us for eternal life.  Our understanding deepens when we consider the nature of eternal life.  This is the life that God intended for us to have before sin entered the world.  When we are finally healed and see the Face of our Lord, there is no pain, sorrow, or death.  Romans 8:18 tells us of the glory that awaits us in eternal life.  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

A person’s perspective in times of trial is paramount in enduring hardships. For me, I reflect upon the words of 2 Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  We see problems.  We live in a fallen world.  Healing begins when we turn away from the pain, which is temporary, and toward our Father, who is eternal. 

Our response to pain will ultimately increase or decrease our faith in God.  Scripture speaks to the relationship between trials and faith.  “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (I Peter 1:6-8).  Use your pain to draw closer to God with prayer, service, and worship and realize that your pain can become your ministry.

We can choose to respond joyfully because we know we have final victory over pain because of His victory.  We can choose to partner with God in times of trials to make us into the kinds of people He wants us to be (Romans 8:28–29). I believe that our good, compassionate God longs for all of us to be on a formational journey in Christian perfection to be more Christ-like and pain provides a unique “on-ramp” to expedite the journey.

Jesus was often called Teacher and all teachers know that our circumstances influence our ability to learn. A “teachable moment” is an event or experience which presents a good opportunity for learning something about a particular aspect of life.  Pain can create a teachable moment.  We can not control the pain, but we can control our response to the teachable moment it creates.

On my better days, I’m learning that pain is almost always an invitation.  The right next step for all of us is to accept the invitation and embrace the pain because it is nothing compared to the glory that awaits us in heaven. 

Prayer:  Dear God:  We thank you for breathing life into us.  You told us that in this life we will have hardships but to take heart because You have overcome the world.  Help us to live as Easter people that are in preparation for eternal life.  Help us to consider it all pure joy.  Help us to store up our treasure in heaven.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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