– Jerry Bridges
Devotional: 5 Faces of Christian Pain
There is always a purpose to the challenges that we face. Keep in mind that God never tempts us, but he does allow tests to come our way. You have to know that there’s a difference between these two.
With that said, the whole concept of pain really throws off many Christians. After all, some Christians are under the misunderstanding that once they accept Christ as their Savior, all challenges will melt away. In fact, some even believe that once they become believers of Jesus, they will experience prosperity.
Well, it’s obvious that these beliefs are not true. In fact, in many cases, the closer you get to God, the more your problems multiply. This should not be a surprise because the closer you get to Jesus, the more the devil works. The devil wants to separate you from Jesus, wants you to doubt, and wants you to blame God for all your problems. This is why he works double time to bring disaster to you.
The good news is that God never allows pain or challenges without a purpose. Here are the many faces of Christian pain. These are just five of the dimensions of the pain Christians feel. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should help you gain some hope.
Pain is an Indicator that Something is Wrong
A realistic appreciation of Christian pain must first begin with the key understanding that pain is in of itself basically neutral. It is all like collected data from your senses that something is wrong.
If you look at your bank statement and you owe a lot of money or there’s no money, that’s an indication that something is wrong. If you are feeling some aches and pains, that’s an indication that something is wrong.
It only has its power because of the emotional reading we place on it. This is a very fundamental truth to wrap your mind around because if you misunderstand pain, then it’s very easy to misunderstand its proper part and role in the Christian life.
Pain can be a Gateway to Knowing More about God
Now that we have understood the real nature of pain and our often negative judgments of pain, it’s worth noting that pain can be a gateway to knowing more about God. Instead of automatically trying to run away from pain at all costs, it may make sense to step back and understand how it can lead us to God.
Think about it. If you are facing financial, legal, or physical pain, you are reminded of how powerless you are. You are reminded that you cannot really trust on any medicine or anybody else to bail you up. It gives you a tremendous opportunity to place your trust on something bigger than your problems.
Pain Helps us Understand God Better
The interesting thing about pain is that it’s very powerful. Since it’s so emotionally charged it can melt away the thick layers of pride and fear that often accumulate on our hearts.
Let’s face it. When times are good, it’s easy to deny God. It’s when things are flowing well in your life that it can be very tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t need God to bless you because you are already blessed. It’s easy to think that you are responsible for all the blessings in your life.
Now, when pain appears and destroys all your securities and wipes away all your confidences, it gives you a golden opportunity to understand God’s role in your life better because all that fear and pride that prevented you from acknowledging God in your life have been stripped away by the pain. You suddenly become naked, and it really is your choice, whether you reach out and truly try to understand God’s role in your life or pull back and become bitter.
We Don’t have to Become Our Pain
Another fundamental realization that many Christians need to reach with the concept of pain is that pain is just one part of our lives. Just as sin is one part of our lives, we don’t have to become it.
Think of it this way. If you hammer a few nails in your life, you don’t automatically become a carpenter. Similarly, if you committed adultery, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are an adulterer.
God knows this. He is able to separate people from their sin. Just because you stole a couple of things in your life doesn’t mean you’re a thief.
It’s the same way with our pain. Just because we are going through challenges doesn’t mean that we are cursed or there is something fundamentally wrong with us. We don’t have to become our pain. In the same way, we don’t have to become our sin.
Pain May not Go Away, but Our Old Selves Can
The best prayer in many cases is not so much to ask God to make all your challenges disappear overnight. The best prayer would be that he changes your heart so you can see the blessing behind every challenge. Believe it or not, God is always blessing you.
Unfortunately, for most people, the blessing often takes a very different form than they expect. The mark of a mature Christian is to be at peace with the exact form of the blessing that God has in store for you.
If you are a believer, and you are faced with many challenges, it can be easy to just give up and blame God. But if you just hang in there, you will see the victory that God has in store for you.