Today I’m over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee talking about ‘Pain’s Purpose’. There are many ways we respond to pain and many ways that pain is introduced to our lives. Be it sickness, injury, or our own failure, pain has a purpose. It makes us weak and it makes us want to let go. It has a purpose because where you are weak, He is strong and where you want to let go, you now have free hands to grab on to Him.
I have an analogy: Pretend that someone gave you a bucket of marbles and told you to use all of them except one of the colors. You don’t know what colors are, they’re all marbles to you. So, you try some way to separate them out based on your guesses, ease of use and feelings. Marbles that don’t roll the way you want them to are rejected for that task and marbles that are not ‘pretty’ are rejected, too. The formula doesn’t work all the time because the colors don’t match up and every task is different. What didn’t work yesterday works today. We get used to the inconsistency and learn how to roll with ‘not knowing everything.’ But there are those times where nothing makes sense and you’re standing there with a mess of marbles and no clue what to do.
Life is like that. God tells us to die to our ‘selves’. We have a task to do and we can’t use a particular color of ‘marble’. We don’t know exactly what that is. It’s all ‘life’ and separating spirit from flesh is confusing. Especially if we think spiritual well being feels good to the ‘flesh.’ So, we reject things that don’t roll smooth or look pretty. Sometimes we’ve got it figured out and sometimes what worked before doesn’t work now. Sometimes we see our pain/failure/inadequacy and wonder how to complete the task to get rid of the discomfort. It’s a mess and we need clearer answers. It would be easier if we were told what that color was or what our ‘selves’ were so that we could take them out of the picture.
Then it clicks…
Our pain is God telling us what our ‘self’ is. Does sickness hurt your spirit or your body? Does a broken leg hurt your spirit or your body? Have you ever sinned and saw the separation between your spiritual desire and your ‘selfish’ desire? When someone dies, does it hurt your heart or your spirit? Pain is a tool. Paul was given a ‘thorn in his flesh’. There are many different interpretations as to what that was. I have a few of my own. But, the outcome is the same: His flesh was marked so that he never forgot where it was. When you forget where your flesh is, you get cocky, self-righteous and impatient with others. The ‘thorn’ was a handle, a grip. It was a blessing.
At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. -2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Pain, sickness, death, failure are all things that show us the difference between flesh and spirit. It only serves as a tool to help you know what not to consider when completing your task. To die to your ‘self’ as instructed. These things actually make it easier for someone to do just that.
Check out the original blog and join the conversation here. I’d love to hear your thoughts. (I’ve disabled comments here, so we can all communicate in one place.)