The Power of Pain

There are certain things that have to happen in life if we want to become more like Jesus.

And this time I’m not talking about disciplines.

I’m talking about heartache. Personal weaknesses that you can’t seem to get a grip on long enough to overcome. Suffering that you don’t understand and can’t find a way out of. A season of Job-like one-thing-after-the-other seemingly-random trials. A time where everything you believed about God suddenly feels unbelievable. Maybe it’s bankruptcy or debt. Maybe it’s an embarrassment or a hit to your reputation. Maybe it’s sickness after years of incredible health.

Whatever it is, whether it is one thing or a whole host of things, one season or an entire lifetime, God is at work in that pain, confusion, inability to understand, and weakness. Our spiritual DNA is shifting, and it needs to. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where the suffering comes from, what matters is that we look unto Jesus, stop fighting and fixing, and allow ourselves to go with His flow. Sometimes there is spiritual warfare to engage in, but so many times we think we are supposed to fight and fix when that is the very thing that keeps us hard and tough to work with. When we relax under the strain He is allowing us to be under, and breathe, and ask Him what He is doing, we find He is always doing something in our character and it is for our good, and eventually the good of others. If we will be spiritually awake and aware enough to ask and listen, we will get to see what He was after and truly rejoice in the work He did. That’s how some believers can astonishingly say, “I wouldn’t trade that heartache for the world; I am who I am today because of it.”

One thing in particular that I see Him doing as we become pliable, willing clay in His hands in the middle of our confusing difficulties is He humbles us. No longer are we so quick to think these things of people around us: “Well, they’re broke because they spend their money recklessly” or “If they’re sick that often, they must not be taking care of themselves” or “If they would do this or that, (insert like I do), they wouldn’t be in this mess”. When we’ve been humbled, we would no longer look at someone in their sin and say, “How could someone do that?” because we know it could have just as easily been us.

Where once there was harshness…a sense of black and white, definite, this plus this always equals that…now there is a gentle spirit. Where once there was pride and arrogance because we considered our lack of problems a direct result of our lack of mistakes…now there is meekness, knowing we never deserved that ease, knowing we were the recipients of great grace. Where once there was a know-it-all heart attitude, now exists a person who doesn’t even have an opinion about many things and many people, aware of how much they truly don’t know, aware of how different and unique every person’s story and circumstances really are.

This is beautiful.

I don’t think many of us have a clue about the depth of suffering people around the world are daily enduring. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially…there is pain all around us. The need for softened hearts, the need for people who have went through the fire and were changed by God’s hand in it, is beyond our comprehension. It’s who we are that dictates what we do…so our efforts to love will only be as powerful as our efforts to embrace humility and transformation personally. The expectation to have an uninterrupted easy life will not only leave us confused and angry…it will leave us unchanged, ineffective, unusable.

This is important.

Lord, please give us the presence and mindfulness to look at You and see what You’re doing in us when we go through suffering of all kinds. We welcome weakness and waves if it means we will grow in Christlikeness–kindness, generosity, compassion, availability, and love!

 

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