I always backed down in a discipleship or counseling session when someone said they were in pain. Mostly because I did not want to overstep my bounds as a person that was a fare stranger to this foe.
Most of you know our story by now. You are aware that pain entered our lives as a family about a year ago upon the passing of our sweet Grace. Since then, my approach to hurting people is more empathetic, but also much bolder at the same time.
Pain Is Not Going Away
In Romans 8:23, Paul points out that pain is part of the Christian’s life even though we have the Spirit. Though we often focus on the part of this verse that states that we have the “firstfruits of the Spirit”, Paul’s emphasis is more on the fact that we “groan within ourselves” despite the fact that the Spirit is within us.
Until Christ comes back, there will always be a certain amount of pain, disappointment, and even regret in our lives even though we know Christ. This is important because I feel that some feel that they do not have an abundant life in Christ because they feel the strain of sin and discouragement. However, if we compare scripture with scripture, we would have to conclude that though we have a deep embedded joy in our hearts, we can still say with Paul that we are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. (II Corinthians 6:10)
How To Use Pain
Pain is a monster from which we all run. Nobody signs up for pain or votes it into their lives. However, if we find a chapter of pain in our lives, I feel it important to do something that hardly ever enters our minds: use the pain.
No matter how filled with the Spirit my wife and I are, we feel pain over the loss of our Grace Evangeline. There is nothing more spiritual we can do to alleviate that sense of loss. However, I have found that instead of just accepting its presence, I am learning to use it in the following ways:
Use it to help others
I cannot tell you how many times we have been able to stand on the platform of pain in the last year with boldness encouraging others to stay in the fight. Once again, where I formerly backed down, I am now boldly encouraging others to stay the course.
Use it to identify with others
II Corinthians 1:4 tells us that God comforts us “in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Those in pain can identify with others in a way that others are not able. In this way, we are using pain for good.
Do something positive with that negative energy
I would be lying if I did not tell you that, at times, I feel anger, regret, and remorse over our loss. But, I have found that instead of pushing those feelings to the side, it is important to use those feelings. In fact, I have an expression along these lines: if you do not learn to use the anger in you to energize you to do something good, it will turn on you to push you into a pit of self pity and destruction.
There is nothing wrong with playing angry at times. I know this is almost a foreign concept to Christians today, but God does tell us to be angry yet sin not in Ephesians 4:26. Though the line is very fine between righteous and unrighteous anger, there is a time to play angry. Examples of this in the Bible would be Moses in Exodus 32, Saul in I Samuel 11:6, Jesus in Mark 3:5, and Paul in Galatians 3:1.
Some of the greatest movements of all time have been spurred by anger. America is a country today because of anger over taxation without representation. Many an abortion clinic has been shut down as a result of people that are angry about the sin of abortion. Years ago, a man called Billy Sunday was upset about the effects of alcohol on the average American and his spiritual condition. His campaigns, spurred on by righteous anger, led to the salvation of many souls.
To be honest, when it comes to marriages today, I play angry. That is, I feel it a shame that many couples are not operating in the realm of wisdom. It bothers me that with a few gentle tweaks they could alleviate many of the long needless fights they have. I also play angry when I think of children having to suffer the destructive effects of divorce as a result of spiritual unhealthiness in a home.
Give Yourself A Sense Of Control
Pain hurts for a number of reasons. One of which is because something happened that is either out of your control or you cannot go back and fix. Once this occurs, you sense a feeling of frustration because you feel very little control over the consequences of that event.
In other words, in our situation, we were driving 72 miles an hour. We were obeying the rules of the road. I had both hands on the steering wheel, but something happened that was out of my control, and I cannot go back and fix the fact that our Grace is gone. However, there are some things I can control. That is, I can control how I use the pain. I can control whom I minister to on this platform of pain. I can decide what I do with the difficult feelings within.
Any other approach will leave you wallowing in self pity and feeling like a victim instead of what we are in Christ: more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37)