Beloved siblings in Christ,
There is a purpose in your pain. Our God is a redeeming God, and he will gather every broken part of your life and make each one beautiful in its time… His time.
Your broken body that lives daily with pain, he will restore to strength and wholeness to honour him with every breath. Your broken heart, crushed by discouragement, disappointment, pain and loneliness, he will tenderly breath back to life until your joy bursts forth in songs of praise. Your broken dreams he will re-craft into his perfect “dream” or purpose for you.
How he will do this or when I do not know. Some of these things you will see while on this earth, for “I believe that you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:14). But some things he would have you wait for. Some desires he withholds from us to make us look to and long for eternity when every one of them will be satisfied. Leave it to him to choose.
But how do you find the purpose in your pain now? What is God doing? And how can he use your suffering to bring comfort to others?
We often think that the purpose in pain is only acheived once it is over. We wait for the victory to come, the solution to be found, the healing to arrive, the hurt to be mended… Then we think it will have a purpose. We will be so much wiser and better equipped than before and able to minister to so many more people.
This was not my experience. The severity of the illness I had, so completely broke and humbled me exposing my weakness and sin, that even in recovery, I realised I had no strength or wisdom to impart to others. All I had was a broken and contrite heart that had learned to rely on God. The “wisdom” I had gained was not how to say the right thing. It was not, as I had imagined, some super-ability to be able to help other hurting people. It was not even a knowledge of the right scriptures for different occasions, it was merely a knowledge of the depths of my own brokenness and weakness and yet the greatness and glory and grace of the God who held me.
Unrelentingly, yet tenderly, God has used suffering to crack open the mask of self-made righteousness, uncovering the deep gashes in my sin-scarred soul. And though I recoil from the sight, despising the weakness, sinfulness, and brokenness I see there, this is exactly who Jesus came for. There is no contempt or condemnation in his gaze, though it penetrates the depth of my brokenness. This is where he meets with us. This is what the cross was for. And here – in the depths of my sin and suffering and pain – the depths of God are revealed.
A depth of mercy answers my sin. A depth of strength answers my weakness. A depth of healing answers my brokenness. A depth of love answers my woundedness. A depth of Grace answers my failure. A depth of sovereignty answers my fear. A depth of devotion answers my loneliness. “With his stripes we are healed!”
So the purpose in my pain?
“…Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
2 Corinthians 1:9
This is the heart of it. In exposing our weakness and brokenness, God draws us into a place of dependence on him. He is always more than enough.
Unless we can meet God in the depth of our own brokenness, we will never be able to meet others in theirs. I do not now minister to others as someone wiser and stronger for having endured trials, but simply as a broken sinner, allowing the infinite depths of God to be revealed through the depths of my brokenness.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Although he is using my suffering to bless others, it is not because of my own wisdom and strength.
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-29
The purpose in your pain is for you to realise that you are weak and foolish and broken – for it is these people God has called to display His wisdom and strength, righteousness and power.
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”‘
1 Corinthians 1:30-31
If you are discouraged by your weakness, brokenness, sin, or the suffering that seems to limit you, have hope! For you are the one Jesus came for. This is exactly the place he wants to meet with you in. And as you rely on him rather than your own strength, you are exactly the one he has called to display his glory and strength.