Do Something Pt 4: Pain

Pastor Ron Macciola

07-14-13

 

We all experience pain in our lives, but how we deal with it is determined by how we view ourselves. If you view yourself as the devil views you, pain will destroy you. That’s what the scriptures say in John 10:10, 

“A thief is only there to steal, and kill and destroy” (MSG). 

But if you view yourself the way God views you, you will convert pain into power: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (MSG). 

Anybody who has accomplished anything worthwhile has had to push through hard times. Nothing good that lasts comes easily.

 

WHAT IS PAIN 

Pain is something happening that you don’t like. This could be physical… like the sciatica I experienced the last 7 days. I just couldn’t get any relief from it. It could be emotional pain, mental, stress, depression, hard work, loss, or sorrow.

 

WHO ARE YOU 

How you answer this question has everything to do with how you handle pain in your life. If you see yourself as a victim, you will always look to be victimized. The devil has got you trained. The devil doesn’t even need to tell you anymore, because you already deeply believe it. You have accepted that you are a powerless failure, and you will be pre-occupied by living to avoid these things. As a victim, you will never do as God asks you to because you are focused on the wrong thing. 

But if you see yourself as God does, a conqueror, a saint, forgiven, a victor and powerful in Him, you will look at challenges and pain very differently. You will accept painful challenges for how they teach and change you, and you will be prepared to deal with anything that comes your way.

 

1. As God’s children, pain produces righteousness in our lives.

(Hebrews 12:1, 11)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” 

If God is your father, you should view pain as a means of purification. You know that God loves you. He will never let you be tempted by more than you can bear and He will never let anything filter through his hands that will destroy you. Imagine with me, as you hold out your hands, that nothing that goes through your hands or through your life that hasn’t already been approved by God. As a child of God, we must live under his grace, not under the circumstances that come our way. He will teach you things in your pain if you will allow Him. Instead of asking God, “Why?” ask him “What do you want me to learn from this?” In my life, I have walked through pain. The first one was my father’s death. I was a Bethany Bible College in Santa Cruz in April of 1976. My parents lived 7 hours away in my childhood home in Southern California. Within 36 hours, my father died. I was 23 years old and studying to be a pastor. What was I going to do? I remember staying extremely close to Jesus… and continuing my studies, graduating from college and eventually pastoring. The scriptures became especially meaningful to me. 

I remember reading at my father’s casket the following verses in 1 Cor. 15:55-58. “Where, oh death is your victory. Where, oh death is your sting. The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 

The pain of my divorce in 1996 showed me that even in my brokenness; God would still use me and continue to heal me. While I held steady as a staff member at this church, God walked me through lonely days and lonely nights. Again, God’s word became clear. Psalms 91:5 states “You will not fear the terror of night…” And once again, God met me while I was experiencing a panic attack. 

“Now, no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful: nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). 

The pain of death has made me a better father, and the pain of divorce helps me strive to be a better husband.

 

2. As conquerors, we can be confident that nothing can take us from God’s hand.  (Romans 8:32-39)

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

If you are a conqueror, then nothing can separate you from God in the end, you win and you are with God!! You know that all the promises God has made will come true: For example, Hebrews 13:5 states, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” In the book of John it says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” 

And again in John it states, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…” 

Have you ever learned something profound from your pain? When it was happening, you probably hated it, but now you can see the benefit it had in your life. With the perspective of a conqueror, you can say “I am learning and God is strengthening me.” Even in the midst of your pain. Let me read to you Romans 8:38-39 again. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

3. As God’s beloved, we share in Christ’s glory when we suffer.

(1 Peter 4:12-16)

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. If you’re abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It’s the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. If they’re on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that’s a different matter. But if it’s because you’re a Christian, don’t give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name!” 

Don’t think it an odd thing that as a Christian you will experience problems. While in Colorado recently on vacation, I saw a man with a T-shirt that read “Of course I have problems… I’m a math teacher.” For us, our T-shirt should read “Of course I have problems… I’m a Christian.” 

The devil works to kill God’s plans here on earth, so those who are obedient to God are directly in his way and a threat to him. You and I will experience pain and suffering just as Jesus did.  But remember, God has our back! Even if the very worst happens and you and I die, we are the victors by going to heaven. Let me read to you again 1 PETER 4:12-13

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”

 

4. As a saint, you are comforted so you can comfort others.

(2Cor. 1:3-5) MSG

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.” 

You and I will experience pain but God will comfort us. Don’t throw that comfort away… give it away. You will come across other people in your life that need comfort, and having come through as a conqueror, you will be able to encourage another person by sharing what you have learned and how God worked and revealed himself to you through your suffering. Let’s look at verse 4 again:  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

God is the original recycler. He doesn’t waste anything in our lives.