If you live in the world you have been through incredibly difficult circumstances in your life. There is no way to run or hide from the pain that is all around us. Sometimes God allows pain to lead us towards repentance. Other times we feel pain from our own bad choices and disobedience. But one thing is true for both. Pain serves a purpose.
When our bodies are inflicted with an injury, pain signals to the brain tells us that damage has been or is being done. If our hand is on a hot stove the pain causes us to ever so quickly get away from the source of pain. If we cut our hand using a knife we will think twice before cutting the next time. We will try to learn from our mistake and cut a different way so we won’t feel that pain again. Pain from the past often causes us to think before we do or it may cause us to never do again.
Pain can also come in the form of loneliness and depression. Why is it that so many people have depression through the holidays if they are alone? As a society we have been conditioned to find our joy and hope in people, places, things, and holidays. For many Christmas is a magical time of year. But when we experience the Christmas season without a loved one or if we find ourselves all alone, we can feel a deep emptiness inside us. We may long for the way it used to be and we may even carry around some self-pity and grief.
What about those that are diagnosed with the back breaking word cancer during the holidays? Where do they find their joy? Will Christmas for them and their families ever be the same? How can they not feel depressed and all alone? My sister was diagnosed with cancer this Christmas. It hits very close to home.
When we feel deep pain in our lives we often cry uncontrollably. We may feel a bit childish in our need to be nurtured and encouraged in our time of sorrow but we usually reach out to people when the pain is too much to bear. Pain teaches us to find dependence outside of ourselves. The world teaches us to run to support groups, counseling, alcohol, drugs, entertainment, and even sex when the tough gets going. Now, there is nothing wrong with getting support from an encouraging friend, a parent, or a pastor, but there is only one place that can bring about real relief. The whole purpose of pain and the dependence it creates is to draw us closer to God. God will never be found if we think man, a system, a book, or simply running away can fix our problems.
During my grief, a horrific time in my life, God gave me a great strength that my counselor noticed and commented on during one of my sessions. If my memory serves correctly, that was the last time I ever talked to her. God’s Spirit within me testified that He alone was the only one that could help. It can be comforting to have another human talking to us in real time, but that comfort is only temporary and it never brings about the healing we seek.
When I was messed up in the charismatic healing movement, I often commanded pains to leave peoples bodies and most of the time their pain left. It seemed amazing at the time, but all too often shortly after our interaction, their pain would come back and the people would want me to ‘pray’ again. Even though I was shamefully harnessing the powers of demons with my ‘prayers,’ the pain never completely left. Why? Because when we run to sinful man we will never be fully healed. We will keep coming back again and again just like support groups or counseling sessions. But when Jesus heals, it’s not a temporary patch, he heals completely. In the Bible Jesus healed physically to symbolize spiritual healing. The only thing we have to do is come to Him in faith. Matthew 8:1-3 “When Jesus came down from the hill, great crowds followed him. Then a man with a skin disease came to Jesus. The man bowed down before him and said, “Lord, you can heal me if you will.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man and said, “I will. Be healed!” And immediately the man was healed from his disease.
If this world was all there was I would say what a horrible place it is! If pain didn’t serve a purpose I would say what a cruel God I serve! If the Christmas season is where I found my hope for the year, what a miserable person I would be! And if Jesus Christ was not born into the world to die for me and then be raised from the dead, I would say what is the point of all of this? 1 Corinthians 15:32 “If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for human motives, what did I gain? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” But I know with every ounce of my being that God is real. I know Him. I know He loves those that love Him. I know there is a reason for everything. I know He brings pain to change us.
If our lives are all about our world, when our world changes we could get crushed. If our lives are all about Jesus, when our world gets crushed around us, we will still stand. The only thing constant in the world is change and change often brings pain. The only thing that completely heals us from pain and never changes is Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
May The Lord Jesus Christ comfort you in your pain and allow you to see just how much you need Him in your life. Pain in this world can be so hard but when we realize its done out of love, the trials we face become much easier to bear.