I’ve always thought “No Pain, No Gain” applied exclusively to exercise but on a recent jog, a thought crossed my mind…this really applies to so much more in life!
Childbirth is painful, but the healing process was also painful at times. But from those experiences God blessed me greatly with my amazing children. Oftentimes, we have to endure some pain in order to receive the beautiful gifts that God has in store for us.
And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Achieving rank or prestigious positions is usually painful for most. Climbing any ladder in life requires effort. Efforts of budget cut decisions, hirings and firings, leading, encouraging, and mentoring difficult people are tasks that come to mind. Sometimes leaders (all of us, really) are faced with having to “deal” with other people’s issues. Sometimes we have to join them in their pain and growth while dealing with our own struggles too.
Some of the greatest leaders in the Bible truly exemplified this. Moses, a murderer, I’m sure felt great anguish over his actions, but went on to lead the Israelites from their pain and slavery to freedom. David hid from his enemies and ran for his life, all while trying to live out his destiny to be king and lead a nation. Jesus came to earth and experienced all that we do today on top of feeling the physical or earthly separation from a perfect loving Father. All the while, he lead people to know that same Father. In the midst of Jesus’ pain here on earth, He continued to lead and heal and as a result, others grew into leaders and healers as well.
What about the pains of life we never intended? Sure, we choose to partake in actions leading to children and jobs (I do recognize there are some exceptions to this). But what about other pains, like divorce, addiction, crimes against us, downsizing, wars, plagues, cancer, etc. What growth, what gain comes from those pains?
Well, we may never know all that is intended, but I do believe that when we seek God in those storms, in those pains, he provides us with a deeper healing that only He can give. Has God ever provided you with comfort or strength in a storm? Have you come through a storm and looked back as a changed person? Only you can put a specific term to what you gained. I encourage you to reflect on those times and write down the ways God brought you through it.
Over the past year I have prayed so many times for God to take the storms and pain away. But the truth is, I’ve gained so much from my struggles—most notably, love from others who have been willing to meet me in my pain. But He’s taught me so much more, too.
In the midst of all my pain, God has changed me from the inside out. I no longer pray for Him to take the pain and storms away, because I know it has forced me into a closer relationship with Him. It has forced me into dependency on Him. Now I pray that He would be with me when those storms hit (admittedly it doesn’t feel like He’s with me sometimes). But, you know what…He is. He has to be. There is no way I could live this life of my own power. Because my own power would have me curled up in bed, day in and day out, refusing to come out and face the world—because honestly, I don’t like pain!
Now, I pray for Him to renew and change me…not back to what I use to be (24 years old with no idea of what anxiety or panic attacks are), but to change me into my future self. Olivia, the anxiety and panic attack overcomer who is now able to help others and bring glory to His name. It will happen…one day, it will! I now pray for Him to help me put on His armor and know my identity in Him. I’m still working to accept who that is. I’m praying for Him to help me see and love myself the way He does. I’m praying for His word to take root deep inside of my heart on fertile soil and to grow, grow, grow. That’s the kind of gains the pain has produced.
With the start of a new year, and pains and storms never ending, I’d like to encourage you to put on your armor. The armor of God! Yes, it seems heavy sometimes, but since it’s God’s, it’s totally worth it—the pain is worth the gain! Seek our great and loving Father, and He will seek you. He will not allow His righteous children to fall. Ask and believe for a change on the inside. WARNING: It probably won’t be how you picture it. It will probably be so much more beautiful, because that’s our God. His ways are higher!!! His timing is different!!! His purpose for the pain is gain!!!
As I write this, I pray that anyone facing a great pain will receive the “gain” of God. I pray that our great and loving Father will comfort your heart and give you the strength to continue on. I pray that no matter how 2016 treated you and no matter how 2017 is starting out, that your focus would always be on the promises of God instead of the problems of the world. I pray for healing, renewing and changing. I pray for boldness to tell others about God’s works in your life…it’s your story that lifts other people up and reiterates how great our God is! Amen.
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG)