Pain is unavoidable in this world. The primary kind of pain I am referring to throughout this article is emotional, mental and psychological. Jesus promised us that in the world we will suffer tribulation John 16:33. (Both physical and emotional in this context.) There are many different reasons for pain: some pain is self inflicted, some is caused by unexpected tragedies like an accident, some is caused by the behavior of other people, some from mental and emotional trauma, some, like in the Book of Job are divine tests, and more.
Irrespective of the cause, all pain has one thing in common, the redemptive potential to make an individual better or a family or team of leaders a better functioning community. Nobody wants pain and most people attempt to avoid it or run from it. In spite of this, pain is indispensable for the purpose of God to be realized on earth.
Many who attempt to avoid pain try to medicate themselves with much activity, the pursuit of numerous relationships, and or by abusing substances like drugs and alcohol. I would rather avoid it, but when I am experiencing intense pain, it causes me to ponder its root causes, which causes me to become more self-aware.
Since pain is the common experience of every human being, pain can brand us with an acute sense of empathy for fellow humans who are suffering through situations similar to what we have experienced. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) A mere intellectual understanding of the bible cannot accomplish this.
Pain can motivate us to go deeper in our key relationships and have less motivation for superficial ones.
Pain can cause us to seek the Lord like never before and become more Christ-like, enduring suffering with His power and strength (Philippians 4:13).
Pain can motivate us to prioritize our time and energy so that we become more focused on fulfilling our divine purpose in life.
Pain can motivate us to get into the (mental and emotional) universe of others so that we can experience a fusion of horizons, which enhances our key relationships.
Pain motivates us to do things better the next time so we don’t experience the same pain again.
Through pain we learn patience, obedience, endurance and the faithfulness of God in the midst of our suffering.
Through pain we learn humility, become grateful for the smallest things in life, and loathe self-promotion.
Through pain we discover that perhaps the greatest blessing in the world is not possessions, titles or fame but inner peace, contentment and the joy of the Lord.
Through pain we can learn the leading of the Lord, the character and mind of God, and the meekness and gentleness of Christ. (Psalm 32:9, 2 Corinthians 10:1)
Through processing pain in the power of the Holy Spirit, we increase our (spiritual and emotional) capacity for pain, which in turn increases our leadership capacity. (Sam Chand’s book “leadership pain” shows how a person’s threshold for pain determines their leadership capacity)
Through pain you realize: what is worth suffering, the people and things you value most in life, the people and entities for which you have no passion, and for who you will not be willing to suffer. (Which is why some of our relationships don’t last very long)
Pain causes us to focus on our main calling in life, which alone can motivate us to keep on keeping on. (Hebrews 12:1,2)
Pain can make us: bitter or better, enable us to learn godly conflict or run from it, cause us to blame others or grow internally, become a victim or experience a victory, or be an overcomer or a complainer.
God allowed the children of Israel to experience war to test them and teach them warfare. (Judges 3:1-4)
Revelation chapters 2-3 teach the church that only the overcomers will inherit the blessings of God. (Overcoming implies great challenges and it’s accompanying pain.)
It is never our circumstances in life that destroy us but how we respond to our circumstances that determine our trajectory. God expects us to overcome and continue on in His Kingdom purpose in spite of the immanent reality of intense pain and tribulation. (Revelation 1:9)
The greatest man who ever lived was described as the suffering servant in Isaiah 53. (a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief)
He was betrayed by someone close to Him (Judas) and forsaken by all of His followers and left alone to suffer on the cross. (Please note that the cross came before the resurrection!)
He learned obedience through what He suffered (Hebrews 5:8) and was made a faithful and great high priest who can intercede for us because of the sufferings and tests He endured. (Hebrews 4:15,16)
So, if you are presently experiencing great pain, you have great company! The Lord Jesus Christ went before you and has already experienced more pain than any of us will ever experience, which means He knows how to uphold us in His mighty hands. (Read Isaiah 41:10; 43:2,4)
Finally, the greatest call any of us will ever have is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, which also involves fellowshipping in His sufferings. (Philippians 3:10 and Romans 8:29,30
May we all grow into His image and have the same mind as Christ Jesus had as found in Philippians 2:4-12.
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