Pain. It’s something every human on earth has endured whether it was expected or not. Pain has various forms and ways that it pushes us toward perseverance. I have come into contact with three (among many) degrees of pain throughout the last twenty years:
- Spiritual (Suffering)
While they are different in the way they influenced me in seasons of my life. Each of them share one common ground: They hurt. Deeply. We’ve all felt it, haven’t we? When we lose someone close to us. A friend moves to the other side of the world in order to answer His call. A mother who risks everything just so her child can have the greatest chance of survival once it’s born. Pain, at least the kind I’ve known in my life has a purpose. A heavenly purpose. But how? Let’s find out.
Every kid (and adult) has experienced some extension of physical pain. I can remember being around the age of six and traveling to my orthopedic surgeon for Botox injections to lessen the pressure in my hips and legs. Talk about excruciating. I would scream as I felt the medicine begin to pump through my veins. And as I would start calming myself the pain would start subsiding. Personal confession: The injections were beneficial to me for a little while because they decreased the pain I was feeling. (They served their purpose- Are you catching the theme here?)
Emotional pain. This is one of the hardest one for me. Mainly because I felt is an eight-year old third grader when my best friend and her family answered the Lord’s call on their lives by moving to Kandern, Germany. God was calling them to be missionaries. People who would joyfully and willing share the Gospel with the people there. Having grown up in the church, I knew how important missionaries were and how awesome their job was. My spiritually immature mind began asking this questions, Why did He call my best friend? Why was He taking her away? I kept these questions in the back of my mind for the next ten years. Some nights I can remember crying myself to sleep because it was too much for my eight-year old brain to bear. Little did I know, I wouldn’t exactly figure it out until nearly twenty years later. Everything would start coming together in my head like a huge jumbo puzzle.
God in His sovereignty knew it was best for my best friend and I to start living hundreds of miles apart at eight years old. For the rest of our lives we’d be living multiple states away from each other. I am so thankful for the way He prepared each of our hearts for the futures that we are called to live out for Him. We had the privilege of learning these lessons TOGETHER even though both of us we miles apart.
That was the purpose amidst that deep emotional pain.
I’m grateful for the pain because it deepened our friendship.
It leaves me speechless to this day.
In the next season I faced what I like to refer to as spiritual pain. I wrestled with the pain related to suffering for Christ most intensely during my middle and high school years. (I say that in recognition of the fact that I’ll always be wrestling with that until the day I leave the earth. I’ve learned that my desire to walk will always be a part of my life down here.) Clearly, that desire doesn’t define me. God is the only one who defines me. There were multiple time throughout this particular season where I wouldn’t want to do anything but sit around, cry and feel sorry for myself. What I was feeling at this point and time was beginning to affect more than just myself. It was damaging the relationships I had with the people around me. I had the attitude of a champion defeatist. (This is an embarrassing truth to write about, but I’m just being brutally honest with you.) As the years go by I continue to fall deeper and deeper into the pit of discontentment, as I like to call it.
I lived in the pit of discontentment until the summer of July 2013.
That’s when everything changed.
I went with my youth group to the LIFE Conference in St. Louis, MO that summer. As our last session was coming to a close, everyone was served communion (with real bread, not crackers-just sayingJ) Let me just tell you, my friend there is absolutely nothing on the face of the planet more beautiful than being able to share communion with 65,000 other teenagers from all across the globe. The speaker that night talked about living in true servanthood for Christ. (Besides, isn’t that what we’re called to do anyway according to Matthew 28:19?) He kept saying over and over again that we couldn’t begin living in TRUE servanthood, if we weren’t content with the servant (ourselves) first. In that moment, I began to sob (just as I am now as I write this. Don’t worry, they’re happy sobs now) because God kept telling me to put aside my old ways of negativity, doubt and insecurity. I could only be content in Him. I left that arena as a totally new woman that night. (2 Corinthians 5:17) I am forever grateful for that sweet time of communion with my youth group in St. Louis. It’s where I learned that sometimes the greatest miracles God does aren’t necessarily the physical ones.
That night God showed me there is purpose in the pain.
My miracle didn’t come in the physical form, but it CAME.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture comes from Luke 13. It’s entitled “Jesus Heals on the Sabbath” in my Bible. I love this passage dearly mainly because I see so much of myself in this woman. Luke tells us she “had been crippled by an evil spirit.” That same crippling spirit caused her to be “bent over double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.” (v. 10-11) I can’t imagine the immense amount of pain she must’ve been in. It doesn’t get any sweeter then verse twelve, y’all. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said,” Dear woman, you are free of your sickness!” I often wonder if the joy that woman felt when she was healed and the joy and freedom I’ve found in being content in Him are anything alike?
I can promise you this:
There is always purpose in the pain.
A Heavenly purpose.
©Andrea Pierce. 2016. All Rights Reserved.