Purpose for Pain

senior white woman looking ill or in pain sitting on bed

Purpose for Pain

It's in those painful times we learn and lean

Philippians 3:13-14 “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

“Why do I hurt?” 

People often come to me with that exact question.

We have all asked it and it is definitely something to grapple with.  An even bigger reason to ask is to find a purpose in the pains of life.  Would a nurse or a doctor eventually become calloused to the question, since they hear it over and over?  Would insensitivity to the question be a natural response in dealing with so many hurts, wounds and pains like they do daily?   Dealing with hurt is just what they do, but it’s true that they are trained to handle it.

Is there a purpose in spiritual hurts, pains and wounds?  I don’t know the answer to yours but for me it’s a place of more healing that I couldn’t learn otherwise.  Paul wrote in Philippians about pain, hurts and weaknesses a lot.  So I gravitate to the truth that he finds through his gift of encouragement from the Lord.  Philippians includes Paul’s thoughts and responses to these topics:

…advancing the gospel.

…imitating Christ’s humility.

…no confidence in the flesh.

…pressing on towards the goal.

…encouragements from the field.

What Is the Purpose of Pain?

Truth is people are hurting everywhere in many ways.  And we are looking for a purpose or meaning in life.  Paul even prayed specifically for something that interrupted his purpose from time to time, his “thorn”.  It was a weakness that he asked God to remove several times.  What would be the purpose in leaving this “thorn” as a place of weakness for Paul?  I believe it was in those hard times of seeking God that Paul was shown the reason for it.  Couldn’t you imagine those were dark times loaded with pain, hurts and heartaches, but failed to see them for his own good?

One way to look at pain is to embrace it.  All of life is our teacher and offers purpose in each day if we let it.  Pain, hurt, and heartaches invade our days and becomes a lifestyle in how much of it we can tolerate, the length of hurt, the width it spreads, and the depth it reaches.  Pain impacts our lives in so many ways.  It’s in those dark days that we are reminded that we need Godthe most.

It’s in those times that we need Him most that He shows us that He is enough.

And yet discovering this truth….we continue to ask…”why?”  Why us, why them, why my spouse, why my child?  Why now?

A friend asked God the same why question day after day.  A young mom herself, who was HIV positive, she took on two more children with the same HIV positive virus.  They have to take medicine as part of their daily routine.  Two of them are very young and as they swallow their daily medications, the kids also swallow the pain that has gotten them to this place in their lives.  Their reality is that they were forgotten, outcast and there was no one to care for them.   At young ages, they too have so many questions that can’t be answered. Then God brought them to my friend and she is now their adoptive mother helping them heal from their forgotten and broken life.

One day, she dared to ask God why “them” and why “now”?  God gave her the purpose she needed to hear, it was “His hope to carry on”.   How reassuring for this young mom to catch hold of God’s vision of being the caring mother they needed as she also deals with the same issues and needs, ones that her young ones can’t communicate well.

Think about the thoughts that must float through a forgotten child’s heart though.  Now think about it in the silence of life, how those unloving thoughts must have started many sore places, a past they are trying to forget.  There has to be some emotional scars that remain.  In advancing true restoration complete transformation is needed for all of our lives.  With a purpose of hope and a love of that only our Savior can give, God continues to grant His peace, hope and grace in dealing with the pain of this young mom.  He does the same for us in pains, wounds of the past, and hurts of today.

Why Do We Need to Understand the Purpose of Pain?

Understanding the purpose of pain and heartache somehow helps us deal with the daily suffering that He has called us to.   

It helps us have the real hope to carry on day after day.  And since I’ve heard her story, I know she is leading them to Jesus too.  Her purpose is to connect in their place of constant pain to give her family a hope and redemption from such a broken past.

She is sharing her life thus advancing the gospel.

She is reflecting Christ’s humility, thus being Jesus to them.

She is weak-kneed flesh but has confidence in her faith.

She presses forward towards the goal of healing, even when she can’t see results.

Her story inspires me to carry on the same hope in my painful days.

Jesus is enough in our pain.  Even the pain of sudden death as it tragically rips life from our families too.  How often we ask the “why now” question when death intersects with our hurting hearts.  But I believe we wouldn’t know that part of Christ until we experienced those kind of sufferings, and let His Spirit comfort us in the most intimate ways.

For every pain there is a purpose for restoration.  That statement alone gives me all the hope I need to carry through them all.

Photo credit: © Getty Images/fizkes