The Purpose of Pain

“Everything happens for a reason.”

If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I would have sock full of nickels to beat the next person who said it.

There is too much hurt, pain and abuse in our lives to believe in some greater purpose beyond our comprehension.

Sometimes really bad things happen, and it just doesn’t make sense.

More times than not, things just go awry. People screw up, brokenness ensues, and we’re left wondering what to do with the pain.

If we assume the crap in our life isn’t the result of some predetermined series of events, but rather, the result of broken people making poor decisions, then how do we move forward?

I wish God would take away every bad situation, but he doesn’t. Have you ever taken the time to talk to God about this? Why doesn’t he take away the pain?

While I don’t have a silver-bullet answer, I suspect this is a part of it: God meets us most intimately in our grief. While he doesn’t make the pain in our lives go away, he helps us learn to grieve it with him.

Just an aside: ungrieved pain isn’t healthy. We must learn to process our junk with God. Rushing to move beyond it by stuffing our emotions, acting as if it’s no big deal, or pretending it never occurred can be more dangerous than sitting alone in bitterness.

Pain is God’s handwritten, blood-engraved invitation to intimacy with him.
– Patti Cepin

In pain, we experience God in an intimate way. There are some special names that God’s people, the Israelites, had for him. One such name is Jehovah-Rapha. Jehovah meaning Lord and Rapha meaning to heal. In our pain, we have two choices: sit alone or sit with our healer. The difference between grief and despair is whether you’re with God or alone.

So what should we do with all of this?

  1. For those in pain, I want you to know that you don’t have to be alone in it. Seek the healer and the wise counsel of others. Speak to someone about it and process its impact on your heart and life. Meet God in the pain and grieve what was lost. In this way, the damage others have caused doesn’t get to have the last word!
  2. Quit trying to “help” people who are sad or hurting. They don’t need your platitudes and they don’t need your pleas to just “move on” already. Rushed, unprocessed pain will simply come back to cause more damage in the long run than had you dealt with it in the first place. Listen intently to what’s going on and how it’s affecting them. More times than not, people simply want someone to listen. When we rush to faux healing (moving on), we skip past the significant impact the pain has caused us. In most cases, people tend to learn behaviors and rearrange beliefs to make life work for them, not knowing that they’ve moved far away from God’s original intent for them. Rather than trusting God, they trust themselves to never allow themselves to be in ______ situation again. We must be willing to do a post-mortem of every painful situation in our lives. Without it, there’s no telling what lasting damage may follow.
  3. You know that pang you feel in your heart, the one that makes you long for a better future? You recognize that for what it is: a beacon calling you to a lasting relationship with God. While there is a chance the pain never subsides this side of life, there is hope that it creates a deeper connection with God; one that will be made complete in heaven.

Finally, trust the process. There’s a reason there’s an entire book of the Bible called Lamentations. God takes lament and grief seriously and so should we.

Reflection:

  • What do you usually do with pain?
  • What’s something God is inviting you to grieve?
  • Who do you need to speak to about that grief?

One thought on “The Purpose of Pain

  1. I agree with the not rushing people to quit grieving. We definitely do not need to rush others but we need to be there with them, praying with them and for them. They need to know they are not alone, that others care, and that God cares. Only God can give them the “peace that passes all understanding” and He will carry them through their pain (if they let Him).

    Liked by 1 person

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