Recently while was speaking with a person whom I highly respect, I confessed that I was feeling weighed down by certain pains in my life. I mentioned I just needed to find some hope to get past it. Her response stuck with me: “Don’t jump to hope until pain has its full way in your life. Pain is what causes us to grow and become closer to the Lord.” This response wasn’t quite what I wanted to hear, but I knew it was true.’
In this day and age, we’re especially unaccustomed to, and very uncomfortable with, experiencing pain. We are a self-numbing and self-medicating generation with a variety of treatment options: alcohol, cigarettes, donuts, pain pills, marijuana, online forums, porn, plastic surgery, and so on. However, looking to the Truth, the passage in James 1:2-4 affirms exactly what my friend said.
This scripture talks about how we’re supposed to endure pain because it will do a work in our life. Not only that, but we are to consider the difficulties we experience “pure joy.” This is something that’s terribly difficult for us to understand because it’s counterintuitive. We try mightily to avoid trials, conflicts and hardships. Why should we consider painful experiences with joy? Pain is the best and surest way to bring us to our knees at the foot of the Cross, leaning on the Lord for strength. These experiences test our faith, and the perseverance of pushing through them grows us into maturity. Thus, pain is also the surest way for our spiritual and personal growth. With this perspective in mind, we can view pain not as a punishment, but as a gift. Experiencing hardships provides the opportunity to become stronger in faith and perseverance, and closer to the Lord.
When you experience pain, lean into it. Don’t shy away. Don’t numb yourself to it. Know that by embracing and enduring it, letting the Lord be your strength, you will come away with more spiritual maturity and fullness than you had before.
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