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Have you ever walked through a situation in life that left you wondering why God would allow you to experience the hurt, pain or even discouragement that resulted? There is no doubt that some challenges in life are the result of poor choices, but for every believer, the reality is that we will walk through hardship and will experience pain.
Jesus told us pain and suffering would be a part of our lives
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Jesus doesn’t simply say we’ll have trials and sorrow and then leaves it to us to figure out. Instead, he promises peace and reminds us that he has overcome the world
I love that Jesus doesn’t simply say we’ll have trials and sorrow and then leaves it to us to figure out. Instead, he promises peace and reminds us that he has overcome the world, meaning our hardships aren’t without purpose.
This is why the Apostle Paul who experienced much pain and difficulty can boldly declare these words in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Our pain and suffering have a purpose
Paul chooses his words carefully, and notice he writes we know. For a man who underwent beatings, shipwrecks and multiple imprisonments, Paul recognizes something that is absolutely essential for us to remember as believers – our pain is not meaningless but has a purpose. And not just some situations, he writes all things.
Every individual God used mightily throughout Scripture went through seasons of hardship. Moses had to flee his family who wanted to kill him, Elijah had people seeking his death, Queen Esther risked her life in order to save the Jewish people, Jesus’ disciples were all martyred for their commitment to Christ and our Savior was beaten and crucified for us.
Yet Scripture repeatedly speaks to how our suffering never concludes without God’s power working through it supernaturally.
Our pain and suffering often sets us up to see God’s supernatural working in our lives
We’ve experienced this truth first hand over and over in our lives. In November of 2015, my wife and I began praying that we would become pregnant and we were very excited for this new chapter in our life as we prepared to have our first child. We strongly believed God had spoken to us that we would conceive although it was taking some time. However, in March of 2016, we did indeed become pregnant and were overjoyed for this new chapter in our lives. Our great joy was soon replaced with sorrow and grief as six weeks into the pregnancy we learned we’d had a miscarriage.
Our suffering never concludes without God’s power working through it supernaturally.
Nothing can prepare you for disappointing news, especially when you feel the Lord had spoken to your heart and then things don’t progress like you planned. Questions begin to fill our mind such as: Did we hear from God? Will we be able to become pregnant? Where do we go from here?
Through that season the Lord was near and helped us through the pain and discouragement a loss like this produces. He also walked with us and taught us some things that have helped us grow even stronger in our relationship with him.
Regardless of what you’re walking through today or what challenges are ahead, these are principles the Lord wants us to know when we’re walking through difficult days.
Principles for walking with God through difficult days:
1. Bring your pain to God don’t run from him.
When you run from God in seasons of challenge, all you’re left with is your own limited ability to cope with what you’re walking through. On the other hand, God invites us to draw near to him that we might experience his peace, healing, and closeness and this is what Scripture points us towards.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18
The Bible never instructs us to suppress our pain, but instead, shows us where to direct it.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Like our need for a surgeon to address physical wounds to our body, God desires to conduct divine surgery on our soul which results in supernatural healing despite how difficult our challenge.
When we bring our pain to God we recognize that there is a purpose and in time the One who loves us unconditionally will reveal his divine purpose through it.
2. Fill your life with God’s Word and God’s people.
How we respond to pain and suffering is critical to how we process what’s happening and how healing will take place. If you treat physical sickness with the inappropriate medication, not only will your sickness continue, but it could become worse.
When you fill your life with God’s Word and surround yourself with people who speak hope and encouragement into your life, your experience will be much healthier.
If you fill your mind with wrong thoughts: God is mad at me, God is not good, worse things are going to happen, etc., you will struggle to experience the peace of God he promises to us in Scripture (Philippians 4:7).
But when you fill your life with God’s Word and surround yourself with people who speak hope and encouragement into your life, your experience will be much healthier.
“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” Psalm 119:103
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8
“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.” Jeremiah 15:16
When we fill our minds with God’s Word, we are reminding ourselves of who our God is, what he’s like, and we replace the lies of the enemy with the truth of our good God.
3. Don’t be filled with worry, overflow with worship.
Something powerful happens when we actively choose to worship through our suffering. We aren’t denying reality, we are simply redirecting our posture from one of worry to one of worship.
Worship changes our perspective. Worship speaks about where our confidence and hope resides. Worship redirects our thinking. Worship places the results in God’s hands.
Whether your pain is the result of relationship challenges, financial struggle, health diagnosis or anxiety about the future, when you begin to worship the Lord through your struggle, spiritual chains begin to break so that you aren’t ruled by your circumstance but you set your sights on something higher. This why Paul and Silas could praise when chained in prison. They recognized God was using their imprisonment for the spread of the gospel which ultimately resulted in the first New Testament church on the continent of Europe.
4. Believe that God will turn your sorrow into great joy.
One of the paradoxes of Christianity is that our good God uses pain for our good. Meaning that our biggest sorrows can result in our greatest joy. When you think about Jesus’ greatest sorrow – suffering the shame, punishment, and death for our sin, the result was great joy – the redemption of humanity and the opportunity for a relationship with the living God.
When I think about our story of the miscarriage which brought great sadness to our hearts, as we pressed into God’s presence and trusted his plan for our life, we’ve watched him use our situation to strengthen and encourage others which has resulted in our own comfort and joy through a tough loss.
We’ve now walked with others who’ve experienced a miscarriage or even difficulty getting pregnant. God has used our pain to strengthen us and encourage others to trust God and believe that he is working despite what we see.
In November of 2016, God blessed us with another pregnancy, resulting in a beautiful baby girl who has changed our lives. My love for her goes even deeper as a result of the previous loss we’d experienced.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:4,
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
This has been true for us as we’ve now walked with others who’ve experienced a miscarriage or even difficulty getting pregnant. God has used our pain to strengthen us and encourage others to trust God and believe that he is working despite what we see.
Our pain and suffering will not last forever
Tim Keller writes these thought-provoking words in his book “The Reason for God”
“Embracing the Christian doctrines of the incarnation and Cross brings profound consolation in the face of suffering. The doctrine of the resurrection can instill us with a powerful hope. It promises that we will get the life we most longed for, but it will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation.”
Jesus willingly suffered the greatest pain because he knew the end of the story, and so do we. Scripture shows us in Revelation 21:3-4,
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Humanity loves movies that end with happiness and joy because we’ve been created to know and walk with God and for those who place their faith in him, that ending will become their reality.
Jesus willingly suffered the greatest pain because he knew the end of the story, and so do we.
Eternity is coming, and our pain and suffering will not be totally forgotten, but the sting will be removed and eternity will be even greater as a result.
As you walk through suffering today or in the days to come, remember the words of our Savior Jesus Christ:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b