Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Good Side of Pain #2

The reason that pain is such an important part of God’s molding process is because it gets us to redirect our focus. So many of us have our focus on other things besides God. We may be focused on the money we will be making on what we will spend it on. We may be focused on a romantic relationship, and we put in so much effort to make it work. Our focus may be the upcoming football season and winning the state championship. It could be on getting good grades so you can get into a good college. Whenever our focus is on something other than God, we are cheating Him of what He deserves. As long as our lives are good and problems are small and manageable we are not going to change our focus. For many of us, the only way we will learn to focus on God is to have our worlds rocked and our dreams shattered, in a word, Pain.

Dr. Larry Crabb in his book Shattered Dreams wrote; “But we almost always mistake lesser pleasures for this greatest pleasure (an encounter with God) and live our lives chasing after them. We’re not in touch with our appetite for God” (p. 5). God allows pain in our lives to help us get in touch with our desire for God.

If we were honest with ourselves we would admit that many times the only way God could redirect our focus is to take away the thing that distracts us the most. When our dreams shatter or when our lives are turned upside down the result is pain. Having our lives disrupted is not be a pleasant experience, it does hurt. This is the second reason why pain is valuable in our lives. Pain is valuable because it is an opportunity to trust God.

The apostle Paul wrote about a particular pain he suffered in 2 Corinthians 12:6-10. This is what the Apostle wrote:
If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NLT)

Pain can be valuable in our lives, but only if we learn the lesson that God wants us to learn. So often we miss out on growing in our relationship with God, because we miss the opportunities God has given to us. The next time you go through a trial or some great pain enters your life, ask God this question, “God what is it that You want me to understand or do?” If you do that I am confident that you will make the most of the pain that is in your life.

Though I believe pain can be valuable, I also believe that not every situation will fit neatly into these two reasons. Sometimes we have to realize that we will not understand that pain and suffering that is happening. Think about the grandmother with Alzheimer. How is that disease valuable to her? How can her character be developed when her mind isn’t functioning? How can she focus on God when she can’t even remember the names of her grandchildren? We will not always understand why God allows pain into the lives of people, especially into the lives of His children. It is a mystery that we need to learn to live with.

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