(Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash)
On Sunday I spoke about 3 tensions we all face when it comes to our purpose:
1. My purpose is glorious and my purpose is mundane.
2. I am contented and I am contending.
3. I have an individual purpose and I am part of the Body.
These 3 I've had to face and it was encouraging to hear from some people that hearing about these tensions was helpful to them. I have learnt that trying to fix problems when its more tensions to manage only leads to great frustration and disappointment. I would encourage you to grab our podcast from Sunday if this sounds like it would be helpful for you, but because I've just moved homes, we don't have internet till Thursday! I'll upload the podcast then and you can access it after.
There was an area that I did want to cover as well, but did not feel like it properly fit with the amount of time I had on Sunday. So here it is: There is PURPOSE in PAIN, and PAIN in PURPOSE. Living out your God-given purpose does not take away the potential for pain. If anything it increases the potential for pain! I've also learnt that God doesn't allow pain to happen without there being a purpose to it. Romans 8:28 states, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." The pain might feel BAD, but God is working for my GOOD. He is bringing the BEST out of me and developing well-formed maturity in me (Rom 12:1-2, MSG).
In this way, I believe that we can be prepared for pain. I think what seems to give pain such an advantage in our lives is how it SURPRISES us. Yet Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus was trying to warn us to be ready for pain!
Pain seems to have the following effects:
- Surprise us that the situation is happening, leading us to think that God suddenly isn't in control.
- It sparks a self-preservation mode that can stop us from seeing different perspectives.
- It focuses your attention on the one situation and everything else seems to be irrelevant at the moment.
We therefore start to think that what is happening to us is unfair so we stop trusting God, we give the situation all of our processing time and energy and therefore drop other things that are equally important (if not more!), we try to control the situation in our own strength and therefore get tired. I've gone through these steps many times and they never fail to... fail. I needed to have a new strategy to tackle such situations. I needed a healthy theology about pain, and I believe that you do to!
Here is some advice I would like to give you as you develop a theology of pain, a deeper understanding of pain through God's eyes.
1. God doesn't change. So who you see Him as in the most difficult of situations is really how you see Him overall. Your theology on pain starts by truly understanding God's character and trusting in it.
2. Pain will happen. Your best days are ahead of you, and your darkest days are also ahead of you. I carry this tension all the time. I am always hopeful that God has got more for me. But I also understand that I need to continue to grow and tough times seem to be the best coach. I also understand that I live in a world full of people who, like myself, are very much on their journey and therefore will say and do things that hurt.
3. Have a plan of action. When pain hits, what do you normally do? And if you could, how would you like to respond? Be ready for the times that pain hits. Have a mate who can encourage you and give you good perspective on the situation. Know the natural responses that you have. For example if you turn to alcohol when pain hits, and you know that it will do you no good, what new response are you going to try? Theology is never just about what you know, but very much how you apply it.
My prayer is that pain won't take you out of your journey with God. Instead it will be your coach and will help you go further than you could imagine!