As I sit here on this rainy Saturday night snuggled up, dry and warm, I am reminded of all the rain storms that have brought tremendous growth to my life. I wouldn’t have had the strength to make it through the storms that followed. Without them I most definitely wouldn’t have the trust and faith I have in my Creator today. I begin to give thanks for those times that I longed to be over. As I reflect back on all the rainy, dreary seasons I have faced, what seemed like such turmoil, God brought forth beauty in my life. Just as the flowers and grass need the rain to bring forth their vibrant colors of life, so has the rain in my own life. And that is the best way I know how to explain it…..colors….vibrate colors that make me who I am. Shades of grey turned into a candy colored tapestry of my life. Now you may look at my life and not see it as beautiful, and to be honest to walk into my dry, dreary head from time to time, you would still see specs of grey! Trust me, I am far from perfect, and I still have many issues I am working through. My pain has pulled me in deeper to Him, it has ignited my faith, and it has grown me in ways I have never imagined. In my pain is where I have witnessed God working. It is where I have met with Him one on one and felt His peace, His love, and Him transforming me. He has taken some pretty scary, unseen, hurtful moments and turned them into something I never seen during those moments. But I had to get on the other side of them from time to time to see it. He has brought life and purpose to my pain.
There is something we all need to realize…. there is purpose in your pain. We DO NOT GROW when things are EASY……WE GROW when things are HARD!!! Plain and simple…..just as all the things of the earth need the rain to grow, so do we. The crops, the grass, the flowers, the trees….they all need the rain. Even in the midst of turmoil when we feel the world is against us……there is growth to be found with in it. There are lessons to be learned and a seed in there that needs the minerals from that rain to flourish.Trying to navigate through it is hard…..it’s really hard! Trying to find the purpose of it can seem impossible and daunting. The only thing that has the ability to carry you through…..is trust in the One who created you. Trust that He is working for the good of those who love Him~ Romans 8:28. The One that is right there beside you, although He seems far away in the turmoil, He is patiently waiting for you to seek His help. He is what will carry you through when you feel like you are drowning. He will keep your head above the waves and surf you through the storm.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” ~ Romans 5:3-5 ESV
God NEVER allows pain without a purpose. Although pain can come in many forms, some being a result of everyday life and living in a fallen, broken realm, some that is self inflicted (mistakes/habits/bad decisions that we make that hurt ourselves & others), and some that is the cause of a ripple effect from what others have done to us. There is also the pain without any explanation to it….. pain we will never see the reasons for until we get to the other side of Heaven.
Pain can be a tool used to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. It is designed to build our trust in Him, but it requires the correct response for it to be fruitful in accomplishing His purposes. Pain forces us to turn from trust in our own ways toward living by faith in God’s ways. If we allow our pain to humble us and search our hearts…..we have the opportunity for growth. Our faith only grows stronger as it faces difficulties and opposition. God can use persecution or pressure from the broken world or the enemy to develop perseverance and godly character in us. That is why James said:
“Consider it all joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking anything.” ~ James 1:2–4 NIV
It’s called faith under pressure!!! I love how the Message bible translates this;
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” ~ James 1:2-4 Message
I have had pain that has completely tried to destroy me. Pain that flipped my world upside down. Pain that made me feel like nothing but a failure and a disappointment. Feelings of loneness and despair within the world around me gripped onto my being. No pain is like another’s…..but pain is pain and the struggle of it is real! There are times when we feel like there is no way out of it. There are parts of my life that not many know of and the only thing that got me through where the ones that loved me the most and God. Allowing Him to search my heart and reveal where I needed the growth, not wishing away the circumstances but relying on His promises.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
~ John 16:33 ESV
“I have told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” ~ John 16:33 Message
I have had many times that I cried out the words “WHY LORD” WHY ME!” I knew He loved me…..I just didn’t feel it in those times. All the head knowledge that I had of Him was no where near the heart knowledge He so desperately wanted me to have. And yes….head knowledge and heart knowledge are two completely different things. Head knowledge is knowing something based on fact or truth and heart knowledge is feeling the truth in your being. Heart knowledge is an experience from the One and only Creator. A knowledge that only He can reveal to you…..it separates the idea of something into a full blown, supernatural, experience of truth into your existence. It ravishes peace and understanding. It literally hugs your heart and squeezes out this beautiful, clear view of who He is. When I feel His peace in my pain, I know He is speaking to my heart but it is up to me to accept it. It has been in my pain that I have experienced a lot of heart knowledge.
In my youth and 20s I had a hard time seeing God in a lot of my pain. I felt like I disappointed Him and let Him down. I felt in some cases of my pain He turned His back on me. I would beg Him for different circumstances and a life more fertile to my desires. I would make promises with Him in return for His mighty power to somehow change and magically wipe away my situation. I literally was trying to use God like a “genii in a bottle” to grant me the wishes I thought I deserved. Magic carpet anyone…..I’ll sure take one to fly above this broken world… lol. I didn’t see my pain as growth in the midst of it……I seen it as unfair, heavy, confusing, and unnecessary. It made me feel alone, wrapped up in the storm in a blanket of self pity.
The problem was, my view of who I thought God is was distorted …..I was wanting Him to take me out of the storm instead of leading me through it. I wanted the escape door, not the way to the door, when the way to the door was designed to be my time with Him. Where He holds my hand and leads me. Where He reveals who He is and how much He loves me. I was missing opportunities time and time again to get to know Him along the way. I wasn’t seeking Him in the way He desires us to. I love this quote by Chris Groeschel;
“We get to enjoy God on the mountaintops, But we get to know Him in the valleys.”
I wasn’t putting forth the effort to get to know Him in my valleys. It wasn’t God…..it was me lacking the effort. Looking for the escape door with out navigating to the door, gets you nowhere fast. There was no direction in my steps to the escape….no one leading me, just a blurred, rainy view, like rain on a car windshield with no wipers. A distorted view of the highway ahead of me.
Pain and suffering is meant for us to look UP. It is meant for us to seek God’s face and His help in the midst of our problems. It draws us closer to Him if we allow it and it lights up a path to the escape door. It should draw us closer to seek God’s will for us, rather than our own. It should cause us to be humble before God when we realize and acknowledge just how fragile and limited we are. It can move us from doing things our own way by eventually discovering the consequences (pain and suffering) for doing so, and situations that we have no solutions for. God cannot work with a selfish, idolatrous, arrogant and prideful person. He can only work with a humble person that knows they need Him. He allows the natural consequences of our prideful ways to hurt us in a way that He can use to discipline us for our benefit and growth. All of this happens in a conversation with God within our spirit, leading us to a deeper faith and relationship with Christ. When we allow pain and suffering not to destroy us, but rather to test, discipline, mature, and edify us, it helps transform us and accomplish His desires in our lives.
What if the blessing is actually in the rain? The feelings of loneness or nights we spend awake worrying or hurting, are actually the times He wants to show us how near He is. What if our trials and pain are actually His mercies in disguise? Saving us, rescuing us from a broken path and world. When people betray us and disappointment seeps deep into our aching hearts, maybe it is the revealing of a deeper hunger within us this world could never satisfy? The things we think are harming us maybe they are healing us…..what we think is working against us maybe it’s working for us….Maybe what we think is an enemy in our life is actually a mentor to us. What if our pain is actually the escape door?
There isn’t one area of pain that I have gone through that didn’t make me stronger because of Him! I am still working through some but I know with out a doubt He is working on me to make me stronger for something ahead! Preparing me, molding me, sculpting me, watering a seed that is about to crack open for His work! He needs to know I can handle it! I now see His power through my pain …..I see how big and merciful He is! I seek His peace and His promises through my uncertainty of this life. I thank Him for pointing out certain areas of my life that need mending!
Now don’t get me wrong…we all have to process the pain we are going through! Whether it is through some tears, confiding or venting to someone we trust, journaling or what ever it may be to help us get it out in a healthy manner. But it is very important once you have done that NOT to stay there! Take the opportunity to be transformed and to draw closer to Him then ever before. Let Him show you how not to let your pain define you or to seep into your being….because what ever has been done to you……was never meant to become you…..it is meant to form you into something greater. When we don’t face our pain with the intention of growth, it can lead us to the very things that destroy us. If you allow it to help you dig deeper into forgiveness, grace, and how he desires us to be in those circumstances……wonderful things begin to arise in our lives! If you let Him search your heart in the pain instead of shutting Him out, He will put you back together. Pain is the ultimate reminder that we are dependent on God and in desperate need of a Savior in a broken world.
Our pain and suffering can become the very things that rescue us if we allow it. The events that shape and mold us into something beautiful. The very things we wish didn’t happen to us, can turn into the best gifts ever given to us. He turns our misery into liberty, our sorrow into victory, our weeping into laughing, our weakness into strength. The very things that knock us down and tear us open become a testimony of hope, perseverance and of Jesus! When we are soggy from all the rain, we have the chance to absorb His love. The minerals to which we need our good seeds to sprout come from the rain. In the tearing open of our hearts there is an opportunity to be filled back up with substance and life…..the breaking open of a seed is where the beauty comes forth in the flower. It is the rain that brings forth beauty and color in life. The rain is what we really need to grow and is what brings forth new life.
I encourage you to dig deep into Him not only in your pain but also in your mundane moments. He wants to experience life with you…..He wants to walk with you and hold your hand. When you are feeling overwhelmed, disappointed or frustrated, He wants to be the rock in which you can stand. He wants to sit with you and hear all your desires and prayers not only in the pain but in your joy and mundane. In doing the dishes, walking through the mall, driving to work, etc…. He wants to encounter those moments with you. He wants to prepare you for an unseen season. He wants to read His word with you and reveal all of the mysteries of the Kingdom. He wants you to experience Him in ways so powerful only the heart can understand it. He wants to give you endless amounts of powerful, unexplainable spiritual experiences. He created us to be in intimate relationship with Him, not just in church, prayer or worship or in times of need…..but in all and everything we do. He is right next to you, patiently waiting for you to acknowledge Him. He hasn’t left you and He isn’t far away. But the doors of our hearts need to be opened to invite Him in. We were never created to do this life alone. We were created to do life with Him. He is the calm in and after the storm. He is our refuge! He gave us the invitation…..will you accept it?
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30