I have a confession to make, I don’t like pain. Like most of you, I will go to great measures to avoid pain and if I can’t avoid it I will do whatever is necessary to alleviate the pain. After all, isn’t that one of my fundamental “rights” as a child of God, to be pain free? By that I mean free of physical, emotional and relational pain.
Think about having no pain. The euphoric feelings that would result, a painless life, Wow! Realistic? No, not in this present life. As a matter of fact Peter, who was very familiar with pain, wrote: I Peter 4:12-16 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed, when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”
This kind of puts things into perspective when it comes to pain doesn’t it?
I have another confession to make. I haven’t experienced a lot of physical pain in the past 30+ years of ministry. I’ve had my share of emotional and relational pain, but the physical side of pain has been limited. That hasn’t been the case with my wife, Rodetta. Every day of her life for the past 30+ years she has had to face physical chronic pain on top of the emotional and relational pain that comes with life in ministry. How does she do it? Her philosophy is, there is always someone else in more pain than she is experiencing. The result of this is a spirit of determination that causes me as a husband, friend, and pastor to say “thank you Lord for your glory, grace, mercy and peace that is revealed in suffering.”
Some of you reading this are experiencing intense pain. Pain coming from any number of sources, intense, excruciating pain, pain that you would do anything possible to be relieved from. As a pastor or pastor’s wife, you may be experiencing the pain of doing your very best to serve the Lord and His people and it never seems to be enough. There are many scenarios that we could look at, but suffice it to say “pain is pain.”
Have you ever considered that God knowing you as He and He only does, has entrusted you with your pain for a reason. That your pain is a part of the “all things” of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Is my pain working for His glory? Can I or will I chose to rejoice?