Tuesday, October 1, 2019

3 Ways God Transforms Pain Into Blessing

As we dive into conversations with our small groups, we often hear of challenging or painful experiences that our group members are going through (or had gone through before). Although pain and suffering did not come into the world until after the Fall, God still uses pain for His glory by turning our situation around and blessing us in ways that sometimes can only be understood in hindsight.

Pain teaches us
We may be familiar with the statement that Jesus makes when He says “I am the vine” (John 15:5), but do we willingly grant permission for God to prune our branches when it is necessary? Whether it is outright sin or whether it might be subtle activities that distract us from pursuing a relationship with Christ, it is possible that pain is occurring in our lives as a way for God to teach us. While it may be challenging to consider this as a form of love, Scripture reminds us that it is because of God’s love that we are disciplined: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (Hebrews 12:5-7, NIV).

Pain equips us
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV).
While a season of pain certainly isn’t ideal for anyone to experience, it is possible that our circumstances could in fact be a training ground for the very ministry that the Lord is calling us to. While it is difficult to objectively see such a possibility in the middle of the pain, James 1:2-4 reminds us that we eventually begin to see how such an event can shape and form our character (and maybe even our spiritual outlook on life). By going through the circumstances ourselves, we are able to look another person in the eye and say to them “I know exactly what you are going through, and here’s how I saw the Lord move in my life during that same season...”

Pain draws us closer to Him
In his well-known Bible Study “Experiencing God,” Henry Blackaby says that one of the ways that God communicates with us is through our circumstances (the others being Scripture, Prayer, and the church). There may be seasons in our lives where we are on auto-pilot or wrapped up in the busyness of our day-to-day. While God always is trying to communicate to us through His still, small voice, it is possible that we may not be tuned into the correct frequency in order to properly hear Him. When we encounter challenging events in our lives, God uses them as opportunities to stand beside us, comfort us, and help us recover. Indeed, many have said that only a painful event could have ever grabbed their attention and could have helped them realize how lost they were without the active influence of the Lord in their lives.

These three items are oftentimes more clearly understood after the pain passes. When ministering to someone who is in the middle of a challenging season of life, we look to Jesus to show us how. Let us have the heart of Christ who experienced sorrow alongside His friends and even wept with them. He showed compassion for those who were in pain, and He ministered to them without hesitance. May the Lord abundantly bless your time with your small groups, and may the power of the Holy Spirit reveal God’s will through the seasons of pain that we may experience through our lives.

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