What’s the worst thing about pain? For me, simply, it hurts. Whether it’s the emotional pain of a broken heart or lost hope, or the physical pain of a broken bone or healing wound, pain hurts. It can be intense. It can be overwhelming. It can bring us to the point of tears and desperation, no matter how strong we are. Sometimes we want to fight through pain. Sometimes we want to dull it with medication. Most times we just want it to go away.
There was a man named Jabez whose mother named him this because she gave birth to him in pain (his name sounds like the Hebrew word for pain). The Bible says that Jabez cried out to God, “Oh, that You would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:10 NLT).
I’m not sure what’s more spectacular. That Jabez asked to be kept from all trouble and pain, or that God granted his request.
We’re told that Jabez was an honorable man, and maybe he had endured more pain in his life than we can fathom. If so, I can understand praying that God would prevent all future pain. When I’m in pain I certainly pray that God helps me. But I can’t imagine praying that all trouble and pain for the rest of my life would be taken away. Why not? Because I know that hardship and pain have played a huge role in molding me into who I am today. I’m not saying I’m tough as nails and I’m not saying that God causes pain. I’m just saying that I know God uses pain in all of our lives.
3 Things We Know About Pain
1. We don’t like pain. Plain and simple. It hurts. Whether the pain is emotional, physical or both, we don’t want pain to continue. It prevents us from doing our normal daily activities. It takes the joy out of life. It challenges what we’re made of.
2. Pain pulls us closer to God. When we’re in pain, we’re willing to do just about anything to get out of pain. For many of us, it’s in our times of pain that we turn to God. We’re desperate for relief but we can’t get relief on our own. And we turn to God for help. We know we can’t heal ourselves so we go to the source of healing. God may not always heal us physically, but if we open our hearts to Him, He will always heal us spiritually.
3. Pain makes us stronger. Pain changes us. As pain increases or is prolonged, our tolerance for pain increases. What we thought we couldn’t endure before becomes something we’re enduring now. But even though pain can be a physical battle, enduring pain is a battle of wills. If we give in to pain, it will tear us down. If we stand in God’s strength with the support of loving family and friends, pain will build us up. Our will to live and our fighting spirit to endure pain and overcome it become an inspiration to others.
I will never wish pain on anyone else, and I will never pray that God brings pain or a painful situation into my life. I’ve had enough already! But I also won’t pray that God will keep me from all trouble and pain in the future. If pain and trials are what it takes to keep me in check and keep me coming back to God, then they have a valid place in my life.
I will pray for relief and help when I’m in pain. And I will also pray that God’s will be done for His glory in the midst of that pain. For growth in my life or someone else’s.
May we reach out to someone in pain today and let them know how much we love them and admire their fighting spirit. And may God use that pain to draw all of us closer to Him.
“Consider it pure joy, my [friends], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3
May I pray?
God, pain is not something that was part of Your original plan. But it’s now a real part of real life. Grant us strength to endure. Grant us courage to turn to You and to others for support as we fight through it. If it’s Your will, please heal us and take today’s pain away. And please, Lord, use our pain to mold us. May we rest in Your mighty right hand knowing that You turn all things for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. Amen.
Q4U: How have you persevered and grown through pain?