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Pain can push you away from God, away from people and into the darkness even more.
But God wants your pain to push you towards Him, towards people and into the light.
Pain can have a purpose. Nothing is wasted with God. He turns the greatest darkness into opportunities for the light to shine. His promise in Romans 8 is that He will turn all circumstances for good.
Here are 4 things to do when living through painful situations.
1. Draw close To God: position yourself for hearing
When Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead – Jesus spoke and Lazarus heard. And his whole world, his whole life changed!
Are you making time for God to speak? Are you listening? Purposefully tuning yourself in to hear. Right now, where you sit, no matter where that is, there are radio waves all around us – if we had a radio we could tune in and hear a cricket commentary, some pop music or someone talking politics. But we don’t have a radio so we’re not tuned into the frequency. Same with God. We have to put up our spiritual antenna and tune in.
John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
When living through pain its important to be intentional about carving out some time to hear God. His promise is the anchor to keep us still in the storm. His words give us peace. His truth silences the lies that try to magnify the pain, unleashing it to do its worst.
2. Draw Close To God: Remind yourselves of the promises of God.
So many times the Israelites got in trouble because they FORGOT about the great things of God. They forgot about His promises. Case in point. God promises the Israelites to deliver them from Egypt and settle them in the promised land. He does signs and wonders and soooo reveals Himself and then boom. They forget. They freak out. They get fearful and insecure and faith-less. And so they have to wander another 40 years in the desert and die.
When my husband was made redundant the 2nd time – about 6 years ago I made a conscious choice to draw near to God. Everything within me was stressing out but I knew that how we walked through this would be watched by our housegroup and our families. We wanted our lives and the way we lived them to be a reflection of the reality of God.
We reminded ourselves that God is good and faithful and our provider. I lay on the sofa in the lounge and put on worship music and cranked it up loud. The song “You are good” came on and it did something on the inside of me.
Rick Warren says worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe.
When you draw close to God you position yourself to hear from Him and to see life from His vantage point and to remind ourselves of His reality, His goodness and His greatness.
3. Draw Close to People: Get good people around you when the going gets tough.
In fact get good people around you NOW so that when it gets tough you’re not having to pick new friends. Job’s wife was not a good friend. She told him to curse God and die. Seriously woman! Get good people in your life now – get into a housegroup, make intentional opportunities for friendship. Paul had good people in his life, when he and Silas got thrown into prison they turned it into a revival meeting. That couldn’t of happened if Silas was like “Paul shut up, you’re out of tune, we’re in a prison, what good is this, no one can hear us, this isn’t the XFactor, we’re gonna die!” They were brothers of the same Father and encouraged each other to draw close to God despite their location and circumstances.
When living through pain surround yourself with people who will encourage you, pray for you, support you.
4. Draw Close to People: Be real.
Often when the going gets tough people say “how are you?” and we’re like “fine mate, sweet as” and inside we’re crushed and disappointed and it feels like someone has rolled that stone over our tomb. When Jesus came both Mary and Martha told Him how it was. They were real with Him. They were vulnerable. They let people in. Now I’m not suggesting we all go and choose our “im feeling emotiocom” on facebook to say I’m feeling like the sky is falling, but again, don’t be afraid to live out your story on the stage of your life. Your mess becomes a message. Your test becomes a testimony.
Pain has a purpose – to grow us, to strengthen us, to teach us.
How we respond is up to us.
Will you embrace the potential of pain and draw near to God and near to the right people?
What helps you get through painful situations?
It’s being a little while since I’ve shared Oceans. It still ranks as one of my favourite songs of the year. An anthem.
Digital Age give it a fresh sound that I adore. I love their take on it.
The first time I heard God speak I was about 4 minutes old as a Christian. I had just got saved, in a shearing shed, and had gone back to my seat. I was all of a sudden filled with a warmth and a peace that i had never felt before. I felt God speak to me. It was amazing. and i was 4 minutes old, brand new.
But it’s also a learning process. We practice hearing His voice and recognising what He is saying and what He is leading us to do. Sometimes its not as easy and clear cut as it sounds like it should be, sometimes we can be distracted by our emotions and circumstances.
Each of us needs to learn from personal experience what it means to hear God given our unique background, personality, and life situation. They way that you hear God is likely to be somewhat different from how I hear God. But the beautiful amazing thing is that God speaks to us.
The God that created the universe, breathed the stars out, is eternal and unshakable, all powerful and glorious – that He speaks to us, that He is near and personal, interested in our lives and doing life with us.
How did Hosea know he was to marry a prostitute?
How did Isaiah know he was to be a naked prophet – for three whole naked cold years?
How did Paul face the storm and shipwreck without fear?
How did Joshua know the walls would fall down?
How did Elijah know to go to zarapeth?
These are all out there examples of people who did radical out there things when they heard from God.
Have you ever had that moment, you’re on the phone, having a great conversation, sharing your heart and then you realize it’s really quiet on the other end. The mmms and ahhas have stopped and there isn’t even any background noise. Silence. Disconnection.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like that with God. You’re talking away, sharing your heart and then you wonder if there really is someone on the other end of the line.
Hello? God are you there?
David felt like this.
In numerous psalms he cries out “God do not be silent to me!”
Psalm 28:1-2 says:
To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock:
Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications
When I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
And like he says: When God is silent it’s the pits.
We wonder what has caused the disconnection. What went wrong? Was it something I said? Something I did. Someone I am?
“Only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God” John 3:6
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world…. Probably earthly pleasures were never made to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same. — C. S. Lewis from Mere Christianity
i read this quote and thought wow. that so says it, better than i ever could. we’re made for eternity and we’re made to know God. without him we’re looking and with him we’re satisfied, but disatisfied, knowing there is more to come… we have hope for eternity.
but the thing that strikes me so awesome about life, and knowing God is that knowing him isnt just about salvation for eternity – but it is about RELATIONSHIP right NOW! its for living, for life, not just life after death.
now that is GOOD NEWS – God’s love never fails. in fact the bible says it is EVERLASTING. God’s love for each one of us is everlasting and personal and never fails.
“You must walk the path of temptation.” Molinos from 100 Days in the Secret Place
An interesting quote isn’t it. We must walk the path of temptation. Most would say flee from temptation – but to do that first we must face temptation. Though we pray in the Lord’s prayer “lead us from temptation and deliver us from evil” we learn from facing and overcoming temptations. We learn obedience. We learn surrender. We learn to be led by the Holy Spirit within us, who is transforming us into the character of God.
Jesus was tempted.
Luke 4:13 And when the Devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.
Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, having been tempted, He is able to rescue those who are being tempted.
Jesus was tempted, not only by the devil in a determined pattern of distraction and attack, but throughout life, because Jesus was human. Because of that he has full understanding of what it feels to be tempted and is the one to run to in our time of trial.
What is the purpose of temptation? Does it have a purpose???
I do think God uses temptation for a purpose. Does he tempt us? No.
James 1:13 Let no one being tempted say, I am tempted from God. For God is not tempted by evils, and He tempts no one. But each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them.
But He uses all things together for good for His purposes and glory. So thus God uses temptation. Temptation is a fire that refines us. It shows us our weaknesses so we can cast them upon God and draw upon His mercy, grace and strength. It allows the work of Grace to be wrought within us.
Temptation comes from within us. It is the fleshly desires we have for things. Be it another person, something we don’t have, power, to react just as we want to, to lie – to whatever.
The good thing is we are not alone in facing temptation. As said above Jesus is with us. So too should our friends. We ALL go through temptation. Be honest with each other and support those who need support.
The other and the most good thing is that God makes a way to escape. He delivers us from temptation. We must take HIS road, HIS way. Sometimes that will be to flee, to remove ourselves from that place (ie nightclub, boys bedroom, shop etc) Other times it will be to talk with someone and share the burden and with the grace and help of God tough it through (so to speak).
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, because having been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation
Now I am NOT SUGGESTION we deliberatily put ourselves in harms way (in temptations way). But temptation will happen in the course of normal life. Dont go looking for trouble. Dont go looking for temptation. Keep living a life walking to please God.
2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Therefore if anyone purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. But flee youthful lusts, and follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
So where does this fit in the 100 Days series… we are studying the “way of the cross”, embracing the changes and the path of change that God outworks in our lives. We must walk the path of temptation and allow it to transform us. We must walk a close walk with God, drawing near to Him.
“God loves not the believer who does the most, now who feels the most, now who thinks the most cleverly and best, nor even one who shows the greatest love, but He loves him who suffers the most.
God is impressed with the purity of the intent of your heart. He wishes to see the inward part of you humbled, quiet and totally surrendered to Him and His will, whatever it may be. You may not find emotions to produce such a relationship, but you will find a door by which you will enter into your nothingness and His ALL.”
Molinos from 100 Days in the Secret Place
I would just like to begin by saying that God wants your inward part to be strengthened and formed into the character of Jesus. He wants us to know Him more and make Him known more.
What does our suffering show? It shows our commitment no matter what, our trust in God no matter what, that we do believe WHO He is, and that we have surrendered all to Him for His glory and good purposes. When we suffer and suffer “well” we area allowing God to transform us and who that we will let Him lead us and recognize that He does know us more than we know ourselves and that we are just flesh, weak with weaknesses and that God knows the perfect path for our lives.
God is not sadistic. We do not suffer for the sake of a cruel joke.
We suffer in the painful experiences of our lives. We suffer in the loneliness and insecurities. We suffer in the sicknesses we bear. We suffer in the sickness our friends and family bear. We suffer in the relationship difficulties and in the kids that go astray. We suffer in the discouragement and disappointment we feel. We suffer as we try to temper our pride, anger, envy, lust, unforgiveness. We suffer in the loss of friends and family to death or broken relationshps. We suffer in prayers that don’t get answered the way we want. Paul suffered in beatings, shipwreckness, homelessness, starvation, persecutions. Most of us don’t get that opportunity. Most of our sufferings could be labeled insignificant – BUT they are NOT – they are what we feel and go through and are the path that God takes us to know Him and trust Him more and be transformed.
It would be nice if there was a super switch at salvation that made us pure and righteous ON THE OUTSIDE all at once. We are made righteous and pure in our spirit by the righteousness and purity of Jesus – but this needs to outwork from inside out.
The path of painful experience (suffering) is partnered with the action of surrender and trust. We trust God to care for us and deliver us and shelter us. We trust that God is for us (in the bigger picture, not our selfish self desires! Not the easy path) and at work in every part of our lives. We trsut that God knows how much we can bear. We trust that God is able and mighty to save. And so we act out our trust with surrender and “yes God”.
I am not saying we cant cry and pray hard and honestly with God about what we are going through. David did it all the time. I’m not saying we should paint a smile on and get a tshirt saying “yay I’m suffer-ing 4 The Lord” and that everything is butterflies and daisies. Part of the learning in suffering is how to pray and how to persist and how to seek and find. Part of the learning of suffering is to hear from God in the hard times.
“When a man sets out of a journey to a great city, every step he takes is volunatary; he does not need to say, “I wish to go to the grat city, I wish to go to the great city.” That first step is an inciation of his intention. He journeys without saying it, but he cannot journey without intending it.”Molinos from 100 Days in the Secret Place
This resonates within me. I often say that “God you know my heart.” Not in the clich?excuse-ladden way that that phrase can be used but meaning – God, you know who I am, my desire is for you, and I want to do your will… every step God I want to honour you and love you and obey you, even though my circumstances and my actions may fall flat…” There are times when we look at our life and think that it doesn’t reflect our heart desire. There are times when the circumstances don’t seem to make sense in regard to the end result we dream for. Remember, who is the author of our faith and our life. God. Who has written all the days of our lives before they occur? God. Even in the daily cirucmstances and occupations we do God is at work to transform and use us. There is not one day when God’s loving hand is upon us. No day is wasted in the grand plan of God.
Life is a journey. Becoming a better mother is a journey. Becoming a better wife is a journey. Becoming a better preacher, communicator, writer, editor is a journey.
Let us set our eyes upon God and walk forward. God orders the steps of his children. His Word guides our feet. Let us be people who consider the end desitination and determine to follow God as He leads, and live the journey.