– Rick Warren
The Pain of Prisoners
Our newest church member is our associate pastor, and he comes from the most unlikely of places. It wasn’t from seminary, college, or even a ministerial training program. Rather, he came from prison. He hit rock bottom behind bars and found out that he had been a false convert. It took the pain of imprisonment to bring him into a saving relationship with Christ, but what came out of this great pain was his own personal prison ministry. He now sends Bibles, Bible studies, and personal letters to those who are in prison, and he is helping set the captives free. This is the work as written in Matthew 25:39-40: “’When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
The Pain of Divorce
Many who have gone through divorce have been hurt so deeply by it that they’ll never be the same. But that doesn’t mean God can’t use them because He can use that pain to help others. He can use those whose lives have been crushed by the pain of divorce by helping others who are going through or have gone through the very same thing. God hates divorce, but He still loves divorced people, and there is no sin that the blood of the Lamb cannot cover. Some believe that they’ve committed the unpardonable sin by divorcing their spouse, but those who’ve gone through such heartbreak can tell them that they will survive, for no one can ever out-sin the cross.
The Pain of Alcoholism
The best counselors are often those who have been able to, by God’s help, overcome their own addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or gambling. Who better to understand what this feels like? They understand more than most what that stronghold is like and the feelings of hopelessness it brings in being held captive by it. Those who have overcome these powerful addictions can give hope to those who are still ensnared by them. They reason that if their counselor was able to rise above their addiction with God’s help, then they too have the hope of overcoming it.
The Pain of Suffering
If we have suffered from health problems, we can have more empathy for those who are going through the same thing, as Paul once wrote to church at Corinth, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Cor. 1:4). Today, there is no shortage of health issues, and who better to understand what others are going through than the one who is going through the same.
It was A.W. Tozer who wrote, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” This fits nicely with the statement of Rick Warren that your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt.