– Jerry Bridge
Pains of Correction
God never wastes suffering, and every pain we feel works out for our ultimate best (Rom. 8:28), so we should “not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him” because “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:5-6). Yes, it can be painful, as for the “moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”(Heb. 12:11). That’s purpose in pain.
Pains of Direction
Jonah knew a little bit about storms of direction, didn’t he? He ran from the will of God and took a ship to get as far away as possible. So God hurled the storm right at Jonah’s ship, and they tossed him overboard (Jonah 1). It was only by way of a great fish that Jonah lived, but even there he must have felt like he was going to die. So he “called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me” (Jonah 2:1), and “the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land”(Jonah 2:10). This storm directed Jonah to his original mission to warn the people of Nineveh to repent or face the judgment of God, which was God’s purpose in the first place. That is His purpose for our lives in our own Ninevehs of the world.
Pains of Reflection
When God exposed Job’s self-righteousness after questioning Him, Job finally encountered God’s response, and all Job could say was, “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Job probably suffered more than any man except Jesus on the cross, but near the end of the Book of Job, he starts to blame God for all of his suffering, even though it was really from Satan. Job finally repented and humbled himself, and God “restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).
Pains of Sharing
We share things around our house, but the Christian is called to share in the sufferings of Christ. That’s what the Bible says. Paul wrote that just “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5). Paul thought of it as if he was “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:10). We can know that we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17), so we suffer with Him by suffering for Him. That’s a powerful lesson in pain.
Jerry Bridges said that God has a purpose in every pain He allows in our lives. It could be pains for our correction, pains for our direction, pains for our reflection, or pains for our sharing in the sufferings of Christ.