God and Pain Part 5

God uses our pain to grow us.

This “thing” we’re on is called a “walk.”  It’s not a “sitting still” or a “lying down.”  It’s a journey.  And we are all somewhere between starting and finishing.  And in this journey hopefully we have all learned some things!  Honestly, some of the wisest folks I meet are not folks who attended some university.  They are the folks who have attended life.  And for the Christian we are to mature along the way spiritually and emotionally.

And I suppose it’s possible for us to grow spiritually and emotionally when everything is going great and life is fantastic, but – it’s a fact that we grow far deeper and greater, not on the mountaintop but in the valley in the face of stress and pressure coming into our life. Someone has said, “Pain is the high cost of growth.”

James 1:4 LB, “For when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow and don’t try to squirm out of your problems….then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”

Apostle Paul says it like this in I Corinthians 1:9 (Phillips), as he was talking about pain he had experienced. “This happened…so we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God.” You see, we really don’t know that Jesus Christ is all we need until Jesus Christ is all we’ve got.

If you are experiencing hurt and pain in your life today, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Father, are you using this to goad me, to motivate me into action, to start doing something I ought to be doing?
  2. Father, are you using this to guide me, to point me in a new direction?
  3. Father, are you using this to gauge me, to help me to measure myself and see what I’m really like on the inside and to let me know where I need to make changes?
  4. Father, are you using this to grow me, to bring maturity and commitment into my life, so that I reflect the character of Jesus Christ?

God’s answer to all these questions will be a resounding, yes. God has dedicated himself to work for the good of the believer in everything life brings, (and that includes pain.)

“But we know that for those who love him, for those called in agreement with his purpose, God makes all things work together for good.”  Romans  8:28 

Pastor Tom

God and Pain Part 4

God uses our pain to gauge us.

When we get sick one of the first things folks do is to test their temperature.  There are many different types of thermometers these days from the old fashion glass and mercury kind to battery operated “place in your ear” models.  But they all pretty much do the same thing.  They test your inner temperature to determine whether or not you have a fever.  An elevated temperature could be an indication that something is wrong.  Some of the diagnostic tests we use are to take a “peek” at the inside of the body to better diagnose what ails us. 

Pain is one of the measuring tools God uses to help us see what we’re like on the inside. It’s been said that people are like tea bags; you don’t know what’s in them until you drop them in hot water. We don’t really know what’s inside of us until we’ve faced the test of pain.

The bible often compares pain to a refining fire. Fire is used to refine gold and silver. As the gold and silver are heated, they begin to melt and all the impurities rise to the surface where they can be scooped off. God uses the pain that comes into our life to bring out the impurities that perhaps we weren’t aware was there.

 Isaiah 48: 10 (NIV), “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Pain is sometimes a test. It exposes the real us. It reveals what we are on the inside. Do you know why this is so? It’s because it’s impossible to maintain an image when you’re in pain. James 1: 2-3, (The Message) “…tests and challenges come at you from all sides (and) you know that under pressure your faith- life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”

Testing reveals what we’re like on the inside so we can do something about it. Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT) Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character and to find out whether or not you would really obey his commandments.”

Okay, so how are you doing on the “inside?”

In the next issue, we will examine the fourth reason God allows pain in our lives.

Pastor Tom

God and Pain Part 3

God uses our pain to guide us.

I remember when I was younger I went away to a horse camp in Ohio.  It was a real  working ranch and each of us had our chores!!  We were each assigned a horse for the weekend and it was our responsibility to take care of it.  We had to groom and feed them as well as saddle them.  We were taught about each piece of the saddle and bit. We were told that a bit is used in a horse’s mouth to turn them. Without the bit it’s almost impossible to get the horse to go in the direction you want it to go.

God takes our (bit) of pain and uses it to turn us in different directions.  All of us have some strong willed characteristics and we usually want our own way.  But God knows what’s best for us and wants to get us on His Plan.  Pain is the “bit” that guides us.

Psalms 119:71-72 (LB), says,“…It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws.”

A bit in the mouth of a horse is used to get their attention. Pain coming into our life is used of God to get our attention. Someone has said, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pain.” He is saying, “I want your attention.” It doesn’t always take a lot of pain to get our attention. Just as a little rudder can turn a big ship–sometimes just a little pain in our life can lead us into a new direction.

Do you remember the story of Joseph in the Bible? The first chapters of his life are one painful experience after another. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. He’s ignored, rejected and sold into slavery by his brothers. He’s falsely accused, thrown into prison and almost forgotten there. But if you read the end of his story, you realize that God was working in all of these painful experiences to prepare Joseph to fulfill God’s plan for his life. Joseph ends up being second in command in Egypt, saving not only Egypt, but Israel also.

All along in Joseph’s life, God was goading and guiding him for greatness. This greatness didn’t come without pain. If Joseph had never gone to the pit, he would never have come to the palace.

In the next issue, we will examine the third reason God allows pain in our lives.

God and Pain Part 2

God uses pain to goad us. (to goad) – to motivate; to spur into action.

Okay let’s just face the facts that sometimes we just like things the way they are. We are creatures of habits. Unfortunately – bad habits as well as the good ones! We don’t like change and doing the “same old thing” works for most of us. But not God! He is “doing a new thing” in our lives and sometimes it takes a little “motivation” to get us going!

Pain will spur us into action quicker than anything else will. Making a dental appointment is a good example of this. Many people have a fear of going to the dentist so they put off going as long as they can. But when their toothache pain gets greater than their fear, then they move into action and go to the dentist.

Proverbs 20: 30, (GNV) “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change.”

Pain will force us to make changes, even when we don’t want to change. Pain brings us to the place where we’re ready to change. The prodigal son of Luke 15: 14 -18 (GN) is an example of this.

Luke 15:14-18

Good News Translation (GNT)

“14 He spent everything he had. Then a severe famine spread over that country, and he was left without a thing.15 So he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out to his farm to take care of the pigs.16 He wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat.17 At last he came to his senses and said, All my father’s hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am about to starve!18 I will get up and go to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against God and against you.”

The prodigal son had “spent everything he had….and was hungry….at last he came to his senses and said…”I’ll get up and go to my father…” The pains of hunger finally goaded him into action. God works even in our pains to stir us up, to motivate us to make the necessary changes in our life. The truth is, we’d rarely make changes if we didn’t have any pain in our life.

In the next issue, we will examine the second reason God allows pain in our lives.

God and Pain

As a hospice chaplain I deal with pain every day.  I work alongside a wonderful nurse whose specialty is palliative care.  Maria, that’s her name, helps people with pain management.  She does everything she can to help alleviate the pain associated with terminal illnesses like cancer, pain associated with surgery and pain associated with end of life issues.  Together with the doctors, she utilizes pain medications and alternative therapies like aroma therapy, meditation and “tapping” therapy which is a method of “tapping” on trigger points of your body while at the same time speaking “good and pleasant thoughts” to yourself.  But even Maria with all of her expertise cannot always alleviate a person’s pain entirely.  I heard today on one of the news channels that Americans are spending 90% more this year than last year on over the counter pain medications.  It only requires a visit to the local pharmacy to remind us that we live in a pain conscious society. Display shelves are filled with a wide variety of products that promise to relieve or reduce the pains in our body from our head to our feet. Prescription drugs for alleviating pain has now become a multi-billion dollar industry and still growing.

 Our human nature automatically shies away from physical stress, mental anguish and emotional conflict brought on by pain. We would like to be isolated and insulated from it all, but that isn’t the way life works. Experiencing physical, mental and emotional pain has become a part of everyday life. As a matter of fact, it is part of the normal human experience around the world. No one is exempted. It’s a part of being human, and as long as we’re in this earthy body, each of us will have to deal with the problem of pain coming into our life. Pain comes included with the package of life.

 When we bump our heads, cut ourselves, sprain our ankle, or suffer some other kind of injury of this nature, we experience a pain that is of a short duration. We don’t get overly concerned with this kind of pain because we know it will eventually go away with time. But sometimes we encounter pain that we don’t know its source. It can be physical or emotional pain. With this kind of pain, we do get concerned. When pain of this type comes into our life, there are two things important for us to understand about it that will help us in dealing with it.

 a) Pain comes as a warning signal telling us that something is definitely wrong in our life. It’s a symptom alerting us to what could be a serious problem. It’s calling our attention to it so we can take measures to do something about it.

 (b) When pain comes, often times God will use it as a means to work his purposes into our life. Sometimes, God takes something that is bad (such as pain) and turns it around and uses it for our good.

 In my next blog, I will discuss four ways that God uses our pain to work good into our life.

Pastor Tom

Praying And God’s Will For You

Any card carrying, Bible toting, Blood bought, sanctified, born again, Spirit filled Jesus freak would say “Yes” when asked if they want the Lord’s Will to be done in their life.  But do they mean it?  What if the Lord’s Will for you goes against your very nature?  What if the Lord’s Will for you means you will have to do some menial task?   What if the Lord is calling you and nobody else?  Do you still want the Lord’s Will in your life?  Yeah – I know.  You’re nodding your head yes, right?  But do you really?

One of the reasons I’m called to minister to family members who are dying is because an adult child has become the caregiver of a parent.  The problem is that none of the siblings are helping with the care.  The caregiver complains vehemently about the siblings who are not helping.  Is it possible that the Lord is asking that sibling to do it because He gave that child the caregiver heart?  Why does our “call” have to be determinate upon someone else’s call? 

Our natural inclination is to look around to see what everyone else is doing or not doing.  We need to take our eyes off of everybody else and place them on Jesus!  Our call is our call.  We need to be less concerned about what everybody else is doing and stay focused on what the Lord has called us to do.

A disciple knows the value of discipline.  When the Lord gives instruction, disciples follow.   No questions.  No complaining.  No comparing.  Disciples do the Lord’s work, no matter what.  Chances are good that the Lord might have you do something out of your comfort zone but not to the point of being fed to lions or stoned to death.  What excuses do you use?  What is the Lord calling you to do?  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to grow the Kingdom?  No matter the cost?

 

Pastor Tom