A Purpose for the Pain

Whenever I suffer, I find myself comparing. When I’m in the midst of despair, I don’t see how anyone could go through what I’m going through, but then the Lord brings to mind countless others who have suffered immeasurably more than I would ever think to endure. He nips my measuring in the bud.

Elisabeth Elliot, who knew loss and suffering, wrote:

It’s no use trying to measure suffering. What matters is making the right use of it, taking advantage of the sense of helplessness it brings to turn one’s thoughts to God.

Elliot, Passion and Purity

The older I grow, the less I measure. It does no good because I can never out-suffer others. I have learned to heed Elisabeth Elliot and the psalmist’s advice to instead turn my thoughts to God.

I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.

Psalm 142:1-3a NIV

I’m learning to ask what he might be wanting to teach me through this experience or how he would want to use it for me to later help others. I now tell him my trouble, knowing he knows my pain.

When all is well in the world, no one needs God; but when suffering strikes, hearts cry out to what may have only been casually acknowledged as a “higher power.” In moments like this, we may find friends who refuse to cry out to God, but are hurting, just the same. How can we point them in their pain to Christ? By sharing our mutual hurts and struggles. Take their hand in the valley, and they will know the touch of God through you. We do this, remembering Paul’s words to the church in Corinth:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Let God use your pain as an avenue for his healing in the life of those around you.

Grace and Peace

2 thoughts on “A Purpose for the Pain

  1. One of the saddest things in the world is wasted suffering—suffering endured in oblivion to God’s resources.

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