Friday, September 17, 2010

Purpose in Pain

"But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction."  (Job 36:15, NIV)

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."  (Job 23:10, NIV)

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains:  It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”  CS Lewis

This is the first time I've attempted to start writing on a topic where I felt that the Scripture passages and quote say it all.  I'm wondering what more I can add to it!  The Lord brought the top Scripture passage to me the other day when I was searching His word on another topic.  It resonated to the point where I thought it was a fabulous stand-alone verse to write on.

You see, I think our modern culture often thinks of prayer much the same way as rubbing a bottle with a magic genie in it.  If we make petitions to God in a certain quantity or style, He will grant our every wish, some think.  However, many parents of children with special needs can attest to the fallacy of that belief.

How often have we, as parents, pleaded with God to deliver us or our children from a given trial?  What number of times have we pleaded with Him to bring our child healing that never came?  This leaves us only asking the persistent question "Why?" more frequently.  It just doesn't seem to make sense.

However, if you read Job 36:15 with a little more scrutiny, you see that we are told that we are delivered in our suffering, not from our suffering.  And therein lays the treasure.  As Lewis writes, trials are often the only way that we acquiesce and give God our full and undivided attention.  He seems to have our ear when we are in the midst of suffering versus when everything is going our way.  And there are some lessons, as I've written in the past, that we can only learn through life's challenges.  There's no shortcut to that type of increasing wisdom.

Furthermore, I love the assurance God gives us in the 2nd passage from Job.  It's as if He's telling us, "Stick with me and you'll come through this smelling like a rose!"  Gold and other precious metals get that luster from the extreme heat of refining.  This is the only way they can separate out the dross or scummy impurities.  So it is with us.  There are many sinful, undesirable parts of our lives that we'd never rid ourselves of had our feet never been held to the flame.  I can name things like chronic worry, selfish materialism and lack of compassion as just a few of the unattractive parts of my life that God has been separating out through the refinement of what we, as a family, have suffered over the years.  Our job is to trust Him and remain close to Him through it all.

Although there's no doubt that it's difficult, develop the habit of thanking God for what will happen because of the pain in your life.  Knowing that you have a new opportunity to hear Him and be delivered through that pain should give you great hope.


  1. Hi Barb,

    Very well stated.

    Here are a couple of books your readers may want to check out:

    "Brokenness" by Lon Solomon. Lon's the Senior Pastor at McLean Bible Church...their Access Ministry resulted from his family's experience with their daughter. She had a seizure disorder related to mitochondrial disease that wasn't diagnosed and treated effectively before she experienced severe brain damage. The book is about how Lon and his wife made sense of their experience through Scripture and prayer.

    I'd also recommend "The Blessings of Brokenness" by Charles Stanley. Great overview of the issues you described from Scripture.

  2. What a wonderful post, you don't know how much comfort that gave me, I just got some upsetting news yesterday and I needed that! I am a new follower, I hope you get a chance to check my blogs about and follow me too!