– Jerry Bridges
Five Ways Pain Helps Christians Walk Closer with Christ
The Christian walk is often inconvenient. A real walk with Christ is often very challenging. You have to understand, the world is at war with Christ’s word. The world doesn’t like Christian truth. That’s the bottom line. This is why there’s so many temptations, catastrophes, and challenges in our world. We live in a very fallen world, and it is constituted in such a way that it seeks to reject the truth of Christ.
Pain is a necessary by-product of that conflict between the worldly reality and Christian reality. Regardless, by staring our pain in the face and refusing to run away, we can walk closer with Christ. Here are five ways pain helps Christians walk closer with Jesus.
Pain Draws Us Closer to Christ
When we experience pain, we really are forced to decide: either we are going to run away so the pain will subside, or we are going to hang on tight to Jesus Christ. In many cases, it’s easier to run away from pain. It is really an act of faith to hang tightly to Christ and draw strength from him to weather the challenges that you face.
You may be challenged in your relationships, your health, or your finances. Regardless of the form, pain is very present. When pain appears, we are given an opportunity to hang on to our source of strength, or to run away and escape pain. Pain is a big opportunity for Christians, because the more we learn how to draw our strength from Christ, the higher our tolerance for pain and challenges becomes.
Loss Opens Our Heart to God
Oftentimes, the more good things happen in our lives, the more we claim credit. In short, the prouder we become. In many cases, we reach a point that we are so proud that we fall into this delusion that all the good things in our lives are really just the product of our own effort, our own planning, and our own willpower. We may give Christ the credit with our lips, but deep down in our hearts, we take credit for our accomplishments.
When we suffer a loss, all that pride that has accumulated on the surface of our hearts starts to crack. The more pain and losses we suffer, the greater the opportunity to wipe away all that pride that basically insulates our heart from the heart of Jesus Christ. When this happens we can once again depend fully on Christ instead of our egos.
Challenges Help Us Focus on What’s Truly Important
When things are going well, it’s very easy to lose our way. It’s very easy to place our confidence and security on things that really don’t matter. It’s very easy to measure ourselves and base our sense of self-worth on the things we have, the things we accomplished, and other material things.
When we face challenges and we experience pain at many different levels, we are given a tremendous opportunity to recommit ourselves to our walk with Christ and to understand the immense value of having a real relationship with our Savior. There is a victory in losses and defeats. It really all boils down to your perspective; whether you will allow yourself to refocus on what’s truly important.
Pain Strengthens Our Character
When pain appears in our lives, it’s easy to just give in, give up, and run away. It’s easy to just become a hypocrite and do differently from what we say we believe. When we face pain head on and rely on Jesus to carry us through our challenges, our character is strengthened.
Defeat Gives Us the Opportunity to Deepen Our Faith
In many cases, people need a reset button in their lives. You may have built so many things that you think you can’t live without—whether we’re talking about material possessions, ideas, assumptions and expectations about other people, relationships, and your relationship with God—that in many cases, all these assumptions insulate you from God.
In a very real sense, when people suffer a tremendous defeat (we’re talking about a cancer diagnosis, bankruptcy, and all sorts of personal disasters), there is an opportunity there to deepen our faith. There’s an opportunity there to once again open our Bibles and read God’s promise that He will be with us and He will provide for us, as long as we believe in Him. In other words, we let go of these false ideas and material trappings that we base our confidence on and we go back to basics; we go back to Christ. That, in of itself, is the greatest victory. It is not a consolation prize; it is not a default prize. It is the highest prize.
Pain can be very therapeutic. Pain can help us walk closer with God. Adversity often is victory in disguise. You only need to look at it the right way.