From 2008 to 2013 I learned what truly deep emotional and spiritual pain feels like. After years of coasting as a Christian, my entire life became a pit of ashes from which I almost lost hope that I would get out of. Have you ever felt that deep of pain? I know many of you have, and you like me have held it in as long as you can! Why? Because many of us as children were taught big girls don’t cry.
But we’ve been sold a pack of lies ladies!
One trip around the gospels shows us time and again that Jesus, our Savior, also felt deep emotional and spiritual pain and at times he cried. He cried out to the Father in anguish and He cried real tears!
But why must we experience such painful situations? What is the purpose behind the pain?
Though it is difficult to battle this emotion, God allows pain (notice, I didn’t say He caused pain) into our life for a few reasons:
To get the attention of His children that are straying off the path to Him. In God’s love for us, He never lets us get too far down the road of self destruction before He ultimately attempts to turn us around. Pain in this case acts as a roadblock. It demands that we stop and evaluate the situation we are in. It places us in a state of vulnerability like no other emotion and it forces us to acknowledge our humanity! King David is a great example of this. Though he was a man after God’s own heart, he made huge mistakes and it cost him. But David never blamed God for the pain. Instead, it always turned David back to God. It was David who said:
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Psalm 51:10-12 NLT
To build us up in character and strength. No one in the Bible suffered more than Job. One day he is just minding his own business and the next he looses everything at once. Though what I went though was tough, the most intense part happened over about 18 months. Job suffered complete loss within less than 24 hours! I can’t image the pain he suffered and the thoughts that must have ran through his mind. But throughout all of it, the Bible tells us that Job never sinned against God (Job 1:22). However, because of his experience, Job came to recognize the sovereignty of his God in a whole new way. Now Job did express his disappointment regarding the situation, but he never lost his confidence in God.
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:1-6 NLT
To teach us how to lean into God. Paul is my favorite example of this. Paul went through tremendous trails while spreading the gospel far and wide. He was not spared emotional or spiritual pain even though he went through great physical pain at times. Triumphantly he would start a new church and then later he would grieve over new believers as they succumb to false teachings or rhetoric being spread throughout their towns. Over and over in his letters to these new believers he expressed the pain he felt and his longing to return to them to set the record straight. And because Paul was a shining example of the trails Christians may endure, even when walking closely with the Lord, people could trust him when he taught them how to lean into God.
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT
I don’t know what kind of emotional or spiritual pain you may be going through today, but I hope you feel the love of God around you despite it. If you are not experiencing pain right now, you either just overcame it or you are headed for it. We can’t stop bad things from happening, but how we process them makes the difference. Believing that God is for us and not against us is not just a catchy phrase, it is solid truth. If we can wrap our hope around it, pain will loose its grip on us.
The pain you experience now could very well be your testimony in the future! When you dig in and deal with the pain, God will help you channel it into something positive. Think about all the mass shootings we have experienced lately. Though deep grief and pain has been experienced by many, some have chosen to redirect their pain into something positive, like a starting an anti-violence organization or creating a memorial fund for their loved ones.
Where is your pain taking you? Or rather, how will you use it as fuel for something God-honoring? Don’t stay stuck in the pain! There is a world that needs you and your story!
Founder, Transforming Love Ministries
Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference
For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.