It served no evident purpose in my life. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t make me smile. It made no bloody sense to me. I despised pain so much that for the majority of my life, I did everything within my power to avoid pain, stay safe within my comfort zone, and limit the chance of its occurrence in my life. So much so that three years ago, when I found myself at 25 years of age with no money, no job, no husband, no friends, no purpose, no hope, and full of pain, I wished strongly to die. I became a depressive recluse who only left the house to go to work at my much-loathed jobs; cashier at a doughnut shop and waitress. I hated pain.
Funny enough, I now have a true appreciation for pain. Stay with me folks, this isn’t some sort of sexual S & M reference. What I mean is I have now come to realize that pain is much more than just a sad dinner table topic – it is P-U-R-P-O-S-E-F-U-L. You see it is through pain that I have learned the most about God and appreciated Him the most. It is through my breakdown in 2011 that I was led to my spiritual breakthrough in 2013 – when I finally realized that I wanted a relationship with Christ and not just the title “Christian” that I had previously been carrying as a cute label.
It is through pain that I learned what my life’s assignments were (one of them being life coaching young Christian women dealing with depression/hopelessness) and how I was going to spend the rest of my life honoring God.
Pain is purposeful
The problem for you might be that you still hate your pain. You might not realize what sense your pain makes and you might be missing the blessings your pain has to offer you. Here are 5 godly purposes (a.k.a “beauties”) of pain you can remember anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed and crippled by it:
Pain Draws (sometimes drags) You Back To God
Let’s be honest, we tend to forget about God. We tend to get caught up with our relationships, our careers, our busy schedules, our stress, and we disconnect from God. We get comfortable making God a “sometime buddy” and when we do go to Church on Sundays, we end up spending the service thinking about everyone and everything except for God. Pain is a great reminder that you need God in your life. It is a great reminder that you thought you could do things on your own but in reality, without God we’re lost and hopeless. Pain inspires you to replace your withered relationship with God for one full of vigor, faith, and love for your Creator – your Father.
Pain Strengthens Your Moral Character
When you are going through painful periods – like a medical illness, a death in the family, a job loss, financial insecurity, a miscarriage, etc – you are given the opportunity to exercise your faith in God and build your endurance (patience). Painful circumstances like the ones listed above can be devastating yet crazily enough, it is in those moments that you are exposed to areas of spiritual weakness that you need growth in. It is in those moments that God is asking you: Do you trust me as much as you say you do? Do you believe that I love you and those you love more than you love yourself and love them? Do you have faith that things might look bad now but will all be used for good purposes later on? The best time to know how faithful or unfaithful you really are is in your painful moments.
Pain Provides Opportunities For God to Heal You & Receive Glory
There is a story in the Bible of a Blind Man in the Bible who asked Jesus Christ to heal him. When asked why the man was born blind, the Pharisees claimed it must have been a curse because of something sinful his parents did. But Jesus said the blind man’s condition was actually an opportunity for God’s works to be done through him and for God to be given glory. How? Because when the people saw how the blind man was healed by God, many of them became believers of God! Also, the blind man was overjoyed at his new sight and began to praise God himself! This wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Pain Builds Empathy
Pain builds your empathy for others.It also helps you determine what your life assignment(s) is/are. There’s a reason in AA groups a recovering alcoholic is paired with an ex alcoholic. They can RELATE to each other’s pain. I believe the specific pain we go through is meant to be used to help others going through similar pain heal. If you’ve battled with negative body image and low esteem, your service to others includes helping people who suffer from negative body image & low esteem. If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one and/or gone through depression, your service to others includes helping people who have suffered the loss of a loved one and/or gotten stuck in a depression hole. Think about it. If you are overweight, who do you believe really understands and can help you? Is it be someone who has been skinny all their life and never known what it feels like to be called “fat” or someone who once battled obesity plus and now eats healthier & looks leaner?
Pain Teaches You Humility
We love thinking of ourselves as “in control” and “in charge”. We love believing that the world revolves around us and what we say goes. Not so. We cannot control everything. Only one person can do that – God. Pain reminds us that we are human and sometimes, things will not go our desired way. The good news is that most times beautiful spiritual growth and advancement in our lives/relationships/careers tend to be birthed from the painful moments we fight so hard to dismiss. When we realize this, we become humbled by the fact and begin to view pain with a more appreciative eye.
Now don’t get me wrong, pain can definitely suck. Pain can create sadness and grief at times that you just can’t “get over”. And you’re not supposed to. The key is not to get over pain but instead “get through” it. How? By acknowledging it exists, completely feeling it in all its hurt & discomfort, and ultimately choosing to find the godly lessons in it that are meant for your good spiritual development.
So, what pain are you struggling with? What pain are you using as an excuse for not living and engaging with people in the world greatly? What pain are you allowing to stop you from fulfilling your God-given purpose? I urge you to take a second look at your pain and re-evaluate its purpose. It might not make sense at the time but I can assure you that all pain has a good purpose hidden beneath it – all you have to do is be open to discovering it. And yes, you will require lifetime reminders of this; coming to terms with pain is a PROCESS, not an overnight occurrence.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hongqi Zhang
Adaeze Diana Obiako is a freelance writer, copy-editor, speaker, and vision coach who helps young Christian women feeling depressed/hopeless discover who they are and why they exist so that they can learn how to enjoy more fulfilling and fruitful lives. She blogs about the spiritual lessons she’s learned at www.deserveyourgreatlife.com. You can follow Adaeze on Twitter and Google+.