“I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
(II Corinthians 7:9-10)
Thoughts… Thank God for pain. If we didn’t have it, we’d be in a world of hurts!
Pain is a gift from God, a gift nobody wants, but a sweet gift nonetheless. Why, because as Paul says, it leads us to sorrow. And Godly sorrow leads to repentance, and true repentance leads us to life.
Years ago there used to be a corny TV program called “Hee Haw”. I hate to admit it, but it was a family favorite—which tells you a lot about my family of origin. One of the skits in this show had a person come into the doctor’s office and describe to the doctor a place on their body that was hurting. They would say, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Then the doctor would whack them upside the head and say, “Well, don’t do that!”
Dumb skit, great point! That’s what God says, “Don’t do that!” God in his grace has allowed us to experience pain, and our pain is meant to bring us to God. It is meant to cause us to look within and see where we have made missteps. It is meant to cause us to look without and see where we need to initiate change in our circumstances. It is meant to lead us look ahead and evaluate how we can steer our life in a more God-honoring direction.
If you are going through a painful episode right now, I would suggest that you thank God for it. Famed Scottish theologian and hymn-writer George Matheson once prayed,
“My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorns. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorns. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross: but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Teach me the glory of my cross: teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.”
By the way, Matheson went totally blind when he was twenty years old.
Pain is the gift nobody wants, but it is still a gift. It will open your eyes to the real and lasting beauty that awaits you in God. So thank God for your pain, it may just turn out to be the best gift He has ever given you.
Prayer… Father, I have been guilty of rejecting the thorns in my life as contrary to your will for me. Sometimes I whine and complain about the discomfort they bring. Lord, help me to endure discipline as a soldier of the cross. Help me to embrace my enemies as gifts disguised. Use every discomfort, every blow, every disappointment, every difficult person as your divine chisel to make me into the image of your Son. There is no higher purpose for me than to be like Jesus. Do what it takes to conform me to his likeness.
One More Thing… “[Pain] plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. —C.S. Lewis