Processing Our Pain
If we run or lift weights for exercise, we will push ourselves to the edge of pain because we know it stretches us—“No pain, no gain,” as athletes say. But if we touch a hot pan on the stove, we jerk our hand back instinctively. That pain serves no good purpose, and its source is within our control, so we alleviate it immediately.
Our natural desire to control pain is normal. But it can lead to trouble when the source of the pain is beyond our control. We often find ourselves willing to do whatever it takes to bring the pain to an end. Like the weakly third-grader who pays off the playground bully with his lunch every day, we are likewise tempted to do whatever the “source” of the pain demands. Various ways and means of alleviating pain may work in the human realm, but when God is in control they only make matters worse. We may be tempted to try and manipulate God—saying what we think he wants to hear—in order to bring an end to our suffering.
The nation of Israel tried this unsuccessfully. God had brought his hand of discipline to bear on the people, and they were hurting. Their pain had its origins in their own sin and their failure to repent in spite of numerous warnings from God’s prophets. When God carried out his discipline, Israel had a “foxhole conversion:” “God, get us out of this situation and we’ll serve you from now on.” Israel actually thought that two days of repentance—at the most three—would result in God’s restoration of their wholeness. But God saw right through their scheme: “Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.” Needless to say, they were not healed in three days with that approach.
Our focus in times of suffering should not be on our pain, but on our Father in heaven. We should strive to determine his purposes, his plans, and his priorities rather than trying to plan our escape route. Don’t think naturally when you’re in pain—“How do I escape?” Think supernaturally—“How can I hear what God is saying through this experience?”
God’s Promise to You: “There is a blessing in everything I allow in your life if you will find it.”
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