Last week in my blog, I openly and honestly described what I experienced during a recent season of sickness. My purpose was not to somehow garner sympathy or to underscore the glumly and morose. My purpose was to begin a discussion of why we experience pain. Are there any redemptive qualities to pain? What is the value of suffering, if any?
Pain is universal. We all experience pain, whether it be emotional, relational, physical or spiritual. Some of you are presently experiencing a season of pain. All of us understand pain because we’ve all had our dealings with it. But sometimes, we don’t realize that though what the enemy means for evil, God means for our good. Though we want pleasure, power and joy filling our lives – none of us want to suffer. Physical pain and sickness are the most overt forms of suffering. This pain can range from a stubbed toe to bone cancer. It all hurts as the multi-billion dollar medical/technical and pharmaceutical industry can attest. We do everything in our power to stave off pain. Though pain is unavoidable and not authored by God, God never wastes our pain.
One of the first benefits I experienced during my protracted season of suffering was the following:
Pain created movement while slowing me down at the same time.
This irony, in the hands of God, can be of great benefit to our lives. I became bed-ridden for several months. I was slowed down to a point where I could not physically move. But in the slowing down process, I became aware of some of the deeper needs of my life that I had not taken the time to address. Though I was so slowed by this condition, I began to move toward God to seek His help and healing. Surprisingly, as I asked God to heal the pain I was in, I was exposed to brokenness in my life that had been completely hidden from my sight. As I slowly moved toward God, I realized I had advanced stages of people pleasing, performance orientation and perfectionism. God used this time of suffering to lovingly address these issues. I have taken significant steps toward wholeness.
I had been living at such “break neck speed” I was completely unaware of the pockets of emptiness in my own life. I was moving so quickly, what was going by me was a blur. And so when the suffering came, it slowed me down. I began to see things, little things that were of utmost importance and I was able to move my attention to important matters like personal faith, family and friendship. My wife and I had some much-needed conversations. In the slowing down process, I was able to once again enjoy the riches of God’s blessing in my life. As I poured out my heart to God, believing that what I was experiencing was what I deserved, I discovered new and profound facets of God’s amazing grace.
Pain will slow you down but it also works to move us in directions that we may have been avoiding but desperately need. If you are in a season of pain, understand that God is with you. He has not forgotten about you. And He is not going to waste this season of your life. He will redeem this experience and work it together for your good.
God will not waste your pain.