I would never ask. I’ve never wanted it. I’ve done my fair share of trying to resist it, escape it, and overcome it. Mostly, I ask for God to take it away. I’m can’t honestly say I’ve given thanks for it. But it’s good for me, so God sometimes chooses to give it. Are you in the middle of pain you didn’t ask for?
C.S.Lewis said that, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” And it’s His megaphone to rouse me. Do you listen for God when you’re in pain? When you’re alone do you lean in hard in hopes of hearing Him speak as your companion? When you’re sinking do you reach out for rescue? If you feel forgotten, do you crave reminders of His remembrance? Pain makes me listen like nothing else.
When I’m satisfied, secure, and safe, I’m likely to be distracted by all of the good and easy things I enjoy. I incline my heart to the sound of my own contentment. But just as every good and perfect thing comes from above (James 1:17), hard things pass through God’s hands for my good too. Still, I feel myself surprised and even confused when I look around and realize I’m in “hard place.” I would never ask for hard things, but pain has a way of pushing me to God like pleasure never would.
Pain is personal
Some days I look at my prayer journal and see a list of needs and pains competing with thanks and praises. No two pains compare, for they each reside distinctly in the heart of each person. Pain is personal. Words like cancer, confusion, and conflict follow names of real people. Real hurts and deep disappointments lurk beneath words like “Aging parents” and “Needs a job” and “Stronger marriage” and “Forgive each other.” No one asked for their pain, and every pain is unique, even if every pain brings us all the same potential. Pain creates the possibility of knowing God in deeper ways than we would know Him without hurting.
There’s comfort in pain
There are some seasons when God shouts into our lives a lot through the megaphone of pain. Some of you are in those seasons now. I would love to pray for you if you’d like to send me a private message. For when we’re in the hardest places, it gives us hope to know God is with us and to be reminded of that through other sojourners who’ve walked in hard places too.
“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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God,” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God Himself comforts us, and He sends people to comfort us too. God plans for us to be more than conquerors, and along the way He provides for our comfort.
There’s good news about pain
Scroll through your Facebook page. Listen to the news. May eye contact with people at Wal-mart. Or Church. All around us, we see people experiencing pain. No one asked for it. No one ever would. And when they’re in it, they’re longing for the kind of peace beyond our understanding. Pain is often what God uses to help people find Him, know Him, and hold on to Him.
Life is hard, and people are hurting. Maybe you’re hurting. Or maybe you just need a reminder of how to pray for or encourage someone hurting near you. I want to share 21 words I tell myself when I’m hurting.
- I am weak.
- He is strong.
- It’s a season.
- This will pass.
- I’m not alone.
- He hears me.
- I trust Him.
Pain makes us listen like nothing else. I would never ask for it, but I’m grateful for where it’s taken me and I don’t want to go back. Whatever this week ahead may hold, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)