Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pain's Potential

An unfortunate consequence of our fallen nature is our susceptibility to pain. Pain is inevitable. We all encounter pain both physically and emotionally. No matter how hard we try, no matter how fast we run, pain has the potential to overpower and run us over. The question is, must pain always end in despair and defeat? Is there a reason why God allows us to experience such sorrow?

As a survivor of a brother who committed suicide, I know all too well the depth of depression, confusion and overwhelming emotional exhaustion and pain that life can bring. My brother, Carson, suffered from Bipolar Disorder and would swing back and forth through times of mania and deep, debilitating depression. He would have his good days and he would have his bad days. Unfortunately, the pain that he had endured for so long eventually became too much to bear and he chose to take his own life.

Your pain may look different. Maybe you're going through a tough time with your spouse and you're not too sure things are going to work out. Maybe you've just been notified that your position at work has been cut and you no longer have a job; a job that you've relied on to support your family. Or, maybe you're struggling with loneliness and, no matter how much you try, you feel like you are never good enough for anyone. No matter what experience you've had with pain, its potential remains the same: pain either petrifies or proclaims.

When we experience pain, it's easy to become petrified. In our sadness and despair, the easy thing to do is to seclude ourselves from anything and everything. We may slip into depression and find ourselves only interested in the solace of our beds. We may even choose to neglect friendships, family and even God! It is during these times that we should find our way back into the word of God. In 2nd Corinthians, we are able to read over Paul and Timothy's shoulder and see what message they had for the church in Corinth. Right off the bat, Paul and Timothy remind the church that God is the "Father of compassion and the God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3b NIV).

I know what you may be thinking: "If God is the source of all comfort, why am I in so much pain? What reason could there be for me to experience such torment?" These questions are normal; in fact, I imagine God expects this to be our reaction to the pain that He allows in our lives. Paul and Timothy knew that the church in Corinth needed to understand pain's potential so they continued in verse 4, "[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV)

Here we see pain's great potential: The comfort we receive from God when we experience pain can serve to proclaim God as the source of all comfort! Thought it may be easy to wallow in our pain or to blame God for allowing us to go through it, there is greater potential for pain to be used to promote God's sovereignty and grace! We have a choice! We can either allow pain to petrify us and waste its potential, or we can allow it to proclaim God's provision in times of need!

What pain have you experienced? How are you handling it? Although there is definitely a need for a time of grief and reflection, God never meant for us to be petrified by the pain He allows us to go through! Choose today to be the beginning of allowing the pain you've experienced to proclaim the grace, love and comfort that only the Lord can supply. Share your story with others and make yourself available to be a soundboard for God's ability to provide! Don't allow pain's potential to be wasted; rest assured, God can, and will use your pain to bring Him glory!

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