What is your pain today?
What sufferings are you experiencing, living through minute by minute?
Look around you. Nearly every person you see has some kind of pain in their life at this moment. We may not share it with those around us; we may instead hide it, put on an attractive mask that speaks more to the crumbling inside of us than it does to the outside world. But a common bond we share with the rest of the human race is the fall and brokenness of this world we live in.
So what's the purpose? Have you ever, in the midst of a severe trial in your life, when you are in pain of some kind- physical, mental, emotional- cried out to God and said "Why me?" That response to suffering, far from the lack of faith it seems to convey, could be part of the process to acceptance and growth. And if we don't waste our pain, we can bear fruit from suffering that we would otherwise never taste.
Suffering...is almost always experienced as an unwelcome intrusion into our lives, something that should not be there...[but] the deep truth is that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire, but can become, instead, the means to it.
Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved
How can we possibly use our pain?
Then again, as followers of Jesus, how can we not?
It seems such a bizarre notion to the non-believer, but our sufferings as Christians not only draw us closer to each other if we allow others to bear our burdens with us, but also allow us to draw near to the One who suffered most. For us. Not one ounce of Jesus' pain was wasted. Instead His pain gave us a chance at life. Jesus is identified by the pain He suffered and the life-giving power that His resurrection holds. Jesus is the suffering servant, the sacrificial Lamb. He is the suffering that He endured. In the same way, our pain defines us.
Our wounds are often an essential part of the fabric of our lives. (Nouwen)
Looking back over my life, the times I have suffered the most have resulted in the character traits in me I am most thankful for. Compassion, generosity, empathy, endurance, patience, faith, gratitude. All of these fruits are gained in large part because of, not in spite of our pain and trials. The grain of wheat must die before it can grow. So, too, the deaths in our lives- of our dreams, health, marriages- will bear fruit if we don't waste them.
Christine can be found daily at her personal blog:
This post was inspired by a devotional by John Piper.