3 Purposes of Pain

“God never allows pain without a purpose.”

– Jerry Bridges

Pain Humbles Us

If you know that God allowed Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever it was, maybe you’ve wondered why. It appears that it was allowed by God to keep Paul humble. That’s what Paul himself said when he wrote, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Corinthians 12:7). God’s message was, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Pain Focuses Us

When we are in pain, we are not very interested in the things of the world: the news, a favorite sports team, or any other number of things that seem to pale in comparison to the pain. Not all pain is physical; in fact, some of the worst pain there is comes from a shattered heart. But God can make good come from evil (Genesis 50:20). All you need to do is look at the cross. Our pain may force us to focus more on prayer and be more dependent on God as Paul was during his many sufferings. Pain can make us better, or it can turn us bitter.

Pain Enables Us

How can pain enable us? God is the One “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4), so our pain is never wasted. We can comfort others who are going through what we’ve already been through. You can say, like few others, “I know what this feels like.” Our suffering can prepare us to comfort others because we too know what it’s like. Even the greatest of pains works out according to God’s purposes and for our very best (Romans 8:28).


Some of the greatest ministries have grown out of the deepest hurts. God will use our pain for our sake and for the sake of others. Pain can make us focus more on God, and pain can humble us if we need humbling. As Mr. Bridges wrote, God never allows pain without a purpose, and I really do believe that. How about you?