In our pursuit of happiness, we often find ourselves trying to avoid or minimize pain. (We spend billions of dollars a year on over-the-counter pain relievers!) What’s ironic is that, despite our aversion to pain, we’ll willingly endure it when we think it serves a greater purpose.
Whether it's hitting the gym to pursue health or running a marathon for the reward on the other side, we prove again and again that we can endure pain when we see a purpose in it.
Of course, our pain is often a lot more complicated than having sore muscles after our first week back in the weight room. How do you find purpose in your pain when it feels like it has none?
What’s the purpose of my pain?
Paul, a follower of Jesus who wrote many books of the Bible, knew what it was like to endure pain. In his lifetime he was imprisoned and persecuted for spreading the news of Jesus. Not to mention the emotional pain and regret he dealt with as a person who once hated Christians – even to the point of killing them.
That’s why Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:9 as he reflects on the things he endured in his life are so powerful:
"But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and we learned to rely on God."
“But as a result...” - imagine how these four words can shape your understanding and perspective of the pain you’ve had to endure! Here are some of the results we can experience from our pain:
Pain alerts you when something needs to change
When you touch a hot stove, you experience pain. It’s your body’s way of screaming “Stop! Don’t do that anymore!” There are times where our pain, whether physical or emotional, alerts us to an area of life where we need to course-correct.
Maybe you experienced a difficult season of burnout and had to set healthier boundaries. Perhaps your depression or anxiety started getting worse and you needed to begin talk therapy with a counselor. Maybe you had a medical emergency and needed to make healthier lifestyle changes to prevent it from happening again.
Whatever the case, sometimes pain is the catalyst that helps us become a healthier version of ourselves.
Pain makes you stronger
Just like lifting weights strengthens our muscles, pain has the power to strengthen our character and resilience. James 1:2-4 reminds us to “consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
Our painful circumstances serve as a refining fire that shapes us into stronger, more resilient people. Embracing pain as a means of growth enables us to face future challenges with greater faith and mental grit.
Pain enables us to comfort others
2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."
There’s something especially comforting about hearing from someone who’s been where you are when you’re in the middle of a tough season. And when we come out on the other side, we find ourselves uniquely equipped to comfort someone else when they encounter a similar situation.
Still wondering why God allows bad things to happen? You’re not alone. Check out this article for insights that can help you make sense of pain and suffering.
The Live Changed Podcast is produced by LCBC Church. LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Subscribe to the Live Changed Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts!