The Purpose of Pain

Pain is a somewhat relative phenomena ... for someone in a wheelchair pain is quite different from someone who has lost a loved one - but pain is pain nonetheless and our challenge is to find a way to let pain achieve its purpose in our lives. The Apostle James writes:
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
The 'all joy' part is where life often begins and sometimes ends ... I often think that joy is only joy when every ounce of our being rails against it ... when we have to fight for joy, not giving in to despair but embracing joy despite the reality of our situations. The Apostle Paul writes these words to those in pain:
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ... we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son ... What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? ... in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."
A few years ago I was going through a dark place of depression when I some how understood that I was becoming more like Jesus ... God was turning my pain into joy as I realized He was using it to make me like Jesus. The Lord often asks me "Why do you want an easy life?" ... it is a sobering question that goes to the root of our pain. Maybe if we all saw pain and suffering as unwilling vessels in His hands ... molding us ... conforming us into the matchless image of Jesus ... maybe then we would rejoice. You know, it seems that, because of pain, we often reject the very instruments of change ... instead of letting pain do a deep work of change we seem to 'consider it all pain' instead of 'all joy'.

I think that "the glory that is to be revealed to us" is the glory of being like Jesus ... but the cost of being like Jesus is often pain.


  1. Bob,

    The illustration of pain that your depression brought to this post is really eye opening.

    We must fight for joy...what a beautiful idea.


  2. The fire in the furnace is always hot, and the place on the potters wheel is uncomfortable, but I've learned both are needed for God to get me where HE wants my life to be, and not my idea of how I think my life should be.

  3. A good and well, kind of painful, post.

  4. Amen to that. I just preached on that passage three weeks ago, and last week had a very difficult week, and continuing on to this week.

    My wife is now diagnosed with full-blown R.A, after living with a mild version of it. And is pretty much in constant pain.

    My car is out of commission after finding out it needed a repair which was almost as much as the car is worth - so we are officially a one car family for the time being.

    I learned about my ministry's financial situation, and it doesn't look very bright which will likely mean some painful budget cuts, ones of which I personally can't afford.

    In the midst of this God is reminding me that He is:

    My comforter.
    The God who heals.
    Our Provider.

    I'm also reminded of what I can be thankful for:

    Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection.

    The fact we had two cars before this - we could have been a no car family.

    Also God is providing some short term solutions for that as well.

    Medication that my wife can take that should help.

    I woke up today :).

    Good friends and family who love us. And...

    So much more.

  5. HI Bob,
    We can have joy in our trials because we can confidently know that
    God is perfect, He is doing a perfect work in us! that's the reason we can have joy. Because nothing stops His plan. What shall we say then - God is for us - who can be against us !

    - ruth

  6. Bob,
    As much as I dislike pain...I have to admit that looking back, most of the growth and transformation into His image that I see in my own life can be traced back to those painful seasons, growth that might not have happened any other way. And when I see that, it generates this bittersweet sense of gratefulness and awe. I didn't like the pain or loss when I endured it, but when I see the fruit on the other side, it becomes precious.

    Makes me think of Jesus, who actually saw "the joy set before Him" and *chose* to endure the pain.

  7. Bob,

    These are hard words...but true.


I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply.
You can click here to see my comment policy.