Pain is inevitable. It’s not if you will experience pain, it is how you will react when that pain comes, and discord disturbs what you viewed as comfortable.
No one would choose the pain associated with a fallen world, and yet, despite the unwanted suffering, God still uses it. God utilizes what we would throw away for His glory. This process does not happen over night, it is a slow and tedious pruning process that allows us to give God our pain so that He may bring forth new life and purpose.
God is so caring. We can trust His promises when our hearts hurt. When we want to shout at the wall in our frustration, God’s promises can resonate on our hearts. “All things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” He sees the bigger picture, even when we don’t. God offers purpose for our pain. Yet sometimes when trials happen, we cling so firmly to that pain. We let it define us, rather than breaking free from our bondage. The pain leaks into other faucets of our life eventually changing our joy into bitterness and our happiness into anger.
Sometimes our pain has grown into a big, hot mess. We don’t know how it’s started, or how to get out of it. It takes moments where God stops us in our tracks to push us back on course.
My wake up call came with a flood.
It was not a huge flood but just big enough to be annoying. The rain came down and flooded our basement about 1-2 feet deep. The fire department came. The water left. But as cleanup began I noticed what the flood ruined… my tangible memories.
Memories… lots of memories saturated with water. Letters that I had saved for years of my life. As I laid them flat to dry, flashbacks of this season flooded my mind.
They were from friendships and loved ones who cared enough to write and build a community in my life. I had lost that along the way. Bitterness and sadness had built bigger walls than I even knew. At this point I didn’t even know how to cultivate these relationships, let alone have more of these relationships than I could count.
You can’t compartmentalize pain and think that life goes on as normal. If you don’t let God heal the places that feel beyond repair, you literally will start decomposing in your pain.
The flood was a visual of my fruit; the blessings that had sprung…from following after Christ… was being ripped away from me; relationship by relationship.
Yet God is still faithful. He heals and restores for His glory. I needed the flood. I needed something to remind me what I was losing, rather than keeping me fixated on what I lost.
So where are you? Has your pain taken dominance over you? Or have you used that trial and the lessons you have learned from to help others?
Everyday we have a choice to allow the healing that God offers to take root, or to continue to use our time and resources on things that are beyond our control.
We may throw up our hands 1,000 times a day in disgust of what was not the perfect story. “Why, God?” “Why them and not me?” “What did I do?” Or we can say, “Here I am, God, send me,” as we hold up our two mites, like the poor women in Mark 12. She could have been more focused on all the money she did not have to give, but instead she changed her perspective. She was going to offer her last two mites, and offer it with a heart of worship.
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
So whatever you have left to offer, do so. Offer up your pain, your gifts, your love, no matter how small it feels at first. You are never beyond repair to be used by a loving and merciful God.
Jesus picks up the broken pieces of His creation. Examining the cracks, scars and frailties; pieces that don’t seem to fit right anymore, and turns it into a mosaic masterpiece. An artistic compilation that only works with broken pieces.
God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
2 Cor. 4:17
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Some Steps You Can Take
- Submit to God and offer Him what you can. Maybe today it’s thinking of one thing you are thankful for. Maybe tomorrow it’s helping out your neighbor. Everyday is a new day.
- Throughout your journey, look for ways to say “Yes” to God. Eventually, when your heart is ready, maybe you will be able to use your pain to encourage someone or empathize with someone.
- You may never be happy that a certain event happened, but there may come a time that you start to appreciate other aspects of your story that have sprung as a result of your pain.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, [a]we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and [b]we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but [c]we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
My brother wrote me this note:
I see a picture of a joyful lady in the midst of rain. Looking upward with a smile and I think of the term dancing in the rain. I also see a little girl filled with a heart of discovery as she jumps into a puddle looking down after the splash. She is exploring this new world. For you and for me, I pray a grace for that heart of discovery and for inexplicable joy in the midst of the rain. .
Pruning: Working through Pain