Pain without Doubt

Pain without Doubt

One thing I can confidently say about my 20’s is that God was teaching me how to be totally unoffended by Him, what it looked like to have an unoffendable love and see His goodness in everything, even the things that hurt… Maybe especially in the things that hurt. Subsequently, I can’t say that my 20’s were particularly fun, but they were undoubtably good, and I wouldn’t trade that confidence for anything! (Check out the promise in Matthew 11:6)

If I could pass on anything it would be my confidence in the goodness of God, it’s the most used tool in my belt, here’s why:

Living here on earth sucks. Our world is totally overrun by sin. The only things we’re absolutely guaranteed are death and taxes. Pessimistic? Possibly, but it’s true. I remember a friend sharing the advice her dad gave her when she was learning how to drive, “Expect people around you to do stupid things.” The idea is that even if she were able to drive perfectly, there were still people all around her acting all sorts of stupid. She couldn’t control other drivers, but she could be ready for it. That’s how I feel about living life in general here on earth.

No one is perfect, least of all me. I do stupid things, and other people do stupid things. Sometimes their stupid gets on me and sometimes my stupid gets on them. What then?

Pain. That’s what.

When things get messy it hurts. When life goes less than ideal it hurts. When we’re forced to deal with sin and sickness and loss, it hurts. But pain isn’t the enemy, not really. While pain isn’t fun, it can be incredibly useful. Pain can teach us healthy boundaries. Pain can keep us from overextending our capabilities. Pain can deter us from danger. Pain keeps us coming back to the only true Source of Comfort. Pain happens when we’re training to be stronger than we are currently. So, while pain may not be enjoyable, it’s not necessarily bad. It all depends on what you do with it.

The question becomes, will you allow pain to do sometime good in you?

Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a peaceful harvest of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

This verse tells me 3 things:

  1. No one LIKES discipline, because it’s painful and you have to be a crazy person to want to be in pain. That goes against our very basest instincts.
  2. But, maturity tells us that there are pains that benefit us and that some pain (and even sometimes a lot of pain) is necessary to achieve the things we want.
  3. So, we get the choice, will we allow ourselves to be trained by this pain and get the reward? Or will we choose comfort over pain and miss out?

All too often we choose comfort over pain and by doing so choose lack instead of blessing. And it makes sense if we don’t trust the goodness of God. Why would we knowingly choose pain if we weren’t absolutely certain there would be good that came out of it? That doesn’t makes sense. So, because we’re so unsure of who God is for us and to us, we have no reason to accept his discipline and shaping in our lives. So when pain comes we automatically turn to doubt and fear. We look at our circumstances and God through skepticism and the need to self protect, seeking relief and to numb the very pain that could be our breakthrough.

We ask, “Why, God, why!?” instead of, “What, God, what!?”

And that question makes all of the difference! What if, rather than our immediate response to pain being doubt, a sense of injustice and a desire for self-preservation, we could run to our Father and say, “I believe that I will see your goodness in this situation, ultimately in heaven, but even here on earth! I believe that you are in this very moment working all things together for good for those who love you, and I love you God! So WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!? What are you working? And what can I do to partner with you in this!?!?”

That’s the prayer of faith in the midst of pain that God LOVES to answer. God’s not afraid of our questions, he’s not offended by our “Why’s”, but it’s his prerogative to answer the questions he wants to answer, and I’ve had much better success with my “What” questions than my “Whys”.

I think God would really appreciate if we gave him the benefit of the doubt every now and then. I think it would really make his day if next time something painful happened our first thought wasn’t about how unfair and horrible it is that we’re uncomfortable, but could stir up a sense of wonder at how high his thoughts are and how amazing it is that He can take something that brings us pain and redeem it for our good.

I wonder if we would be able to move more quickly through our trials if we stopped trying to numb ourselves to oblivion and embraced the pain that transforms us into a peaceful harvest of righteousness? I wonder if some of our painful seasons linger around as long as they do because we refuse to embrace the path to righteousness that God has chosen for us to walk?

I’ve learned that pain is not my enemy. I’ve learned that to experience pain doesn’t mean that I don’t trust God. I’ve learned that I can walk through my pain without a single doubt of the goodness of God, but rather cling to the goodness of God as my guaranteed promise, using my pain to get me somewhere I could have never reached without it.

“Death nor life nor angels nor powers
Present things nor things in the future
Height nor depth nor any created thing
Can separate me from this strong love…”

Not even my pain.