If you’re lucky, you’ll experience pain sooner than later. Yes, that’s right. The sooner you experience the breaking and the pressing, the sooner you’ll understand how to cope—to depend completely on God for your spiritual sustenance and validation. The sooner you are able to wade through the waters and press forward in the midst of thorns, the sooner you can come out with God’s anointing.
Whether it is a bad break-up, or the betrayal of a trusted friend, or a major disappointment in your early career; there is nothing quite like the hurt produced by a fallen world, a fallen existence, to show you the microcosm of man’s separation from God. There’s also nothing quite like a painful season that can not only brandish you with greater God-given anointing and purpose, but also give you greater understanding of Jesus’ pain throughout His life, and at the cross.
How you get back up from a nasty fall will determine so much of your life and how you fare. If you are one to wallow in self-pity (which, by the way, is a sin) and feel that this world owes you something, you will be wallowing in pain for much longer than you need to be. Accept now that things are not perfect, people are not perfect, you are not perfect, but God is. Only perfection can take imperfection and make it work perfection’s sake. Through your trials, you are being perfected and with greater precision, reflecting of the image of Jesus Christ. If you are in the ditch, let God bring you out. If you have fallen into those prickly bushes. Don’t stay still so that you won’t feel the pinches anymore—take a deep breath and know that while getting out may be equally as painful, that is not where God wants you to stay forever, and He is leading you out.
Good parents make their children take yucky medicine. Good coaches know how to place the right kind of demands on their players, demands calling for the perfect amounts of physical and mental exertion. A good God wastes nothing of your heartache to offer you a nutrients-rich plate of personal growth and closeness to Him. In fact, the pain that we experience is used for use to walk in the way that God wants us to walk, ways which we would never have considered for ourselves.
It’s interesting how, when we are pursuing our own paths, those separate from God, that we can employ those talents of grit, perseverance, and agency. It is not hard to do one’s best when you think that you are all you have or all you need. When it is time to work for God, not everyone is as excited. “Will God let me do what I want to do?” “Will this be something boring?” These are the kinds of thoughts that run through the minds of the modern day Jonah’s of the world. We have to be willing to nail our own desires to the cross. We have to be willing to die to self in order to grow in God, and this hurts. Nails hurt. Hanging from a cross hurts. And when we are not willing, sometimes, like Jonah, we have to be swallowed whole by grace, and well, that can hurt too.
When life hurts, get into God’s presence. Praise Him, not just at church, but also in your dorm room, in your car (if you have one). Commune with Him. Dine with Him and feast on His words for you. At His table are pleasures forevermore. He is a good Father and feeds His children. Remember Matthew 4:4, which says, “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word out of the mouth of God.” The words that God has spoken over you are enough for you to make it. Trust in what He says, not what others, or even your own mind says. Because it is so easy to be misled, time with God is essential. You need to hear His voice and have the knowledge of His immense love for you permeate your mind, your will, and your emotions. It’s not enough to just have mere intellectual knowledge of God, we must experience Him in order to really move with Him. Let His words dictate how you think, and remember to cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. God loves you so much, I hope you’re getting it by now. Jeremiah 29:11, a favorite verse says, “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
So if you are in a place of hurting and despair, and you strength is weak, know that this place is not where God intends for you to stay, and hold on to that one grain of truth. Know that there is more. God loves you and wants more than anyone for you to succeed and live an abundant life. But, unlike the culture which sells instant success without a relationship with God, He takes you down the honest road. He seeks to comb out the kinks, straighten crooked ways, and undo inherited mishaps in our souls. That dream that you have, He sees it. However, He sees so much more, looking from time immemorial past to the eternity of your future. When God blesses you, He doesn’t just bless you with what you asked for, He gives you the royal package, which includes a you that bears the uncanny resemblance to Him. So hop into the Father’s lap. Let Him embrace you, hold you, and soothe your pain. Yeah, it hurts. But you are being built not just for yourself, but for God’s Kingdom, others who need your influence, and God good pleasure.