The Surprising Habit of Pain

Pain has a surprising habit of crushing our hearts gloriously nearer to God Himself. And it is God who can take the impossible--especially the impossible!–and transform it into beauty while pressing His love and goodness deep into our chasm of heartache.

But we turn to despair so fast.

Surely pain is here because we are not good enough yet. Surely pain is here because God wants suffering for us. Surely pain is here because God is withholding His goodness from us, and we don’t know why.

Everything about these thoughts is incredibly wrong, and yet so easy to fall prey to. We grab hold of our pain and shape it against God and if it doesn’t quite fit our outline of Him, we take it back and yell at God WHY and believe His goodness is dependent on our definition of good.

But God never fits into our definition, and if He did? Well, we’d be scared out of our minds. We wouldn’t want to serve a God who could easily fit into our narrow-minded ideas.

And still. . .we take our little human-dictionary of circumstances and pain, and let these things define an infinite God. And that’s enough for us just because our human logic says so.

Life under our logic (which we have deemed enough and have settled for) actually just looks like us existing in a lie that God really isn’t good. Thus, our pain feels like despair. . . and despair reinforces the idea that God isn’t good. And so that’s how we go about livingΒ existing.

We can kick and scream all day long, but we don’t get to define God. God defines Himself. Our pain can never become a newfangled and scary definition of God. Instead, it can be a rutted road that brings us closer to God but only when we walk this rutted road with God. Because when we walk in the Spirit, pain cannot lead us anywhere but straight to God Himself.

Pain is not good in and of itself. In fact, pain without God produces multiplied heartache and bitterness. Yet pain experienced with our God–who loves us and desires + designs good for us–produces unimaginable joy, comfort, and peace.

Pain on its own could only be chaos, but pain transformed by God becomes a chasm flooded with the desire to know God, and this chasm is soon filled with intimate knowledge and personal experience of who our God truly is.

It is here we begin to understand that God’s goodness is never dependent on how much or how little we are suffering. God is simply good to us when we experience suffering and when we do not.

We begin to see that pain drives us deep and it is hard, but pain holds no power to drive us away from the heart of God. We do that just fine on our own. But nevertheless! Here is God–our safe Harbor, our Refuge, our Healer. . . our true Joy in everything. We are learning the language of Job, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you.” (Job 42:5)

This is our reality: A God who is good. (Psalm 107:1, 145:9) A God who does not withhold good from us (Psalm 84:11). A God whom we have access to through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26-27). A God who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! (Ephesians 1:3)

We are recipients to the beauty He creates. We are living proof that God redeems. We are gifted with purpose and watch in amazement as God transforms debilitating pain into purpose that moves. . . for His kingdom, for His glory, and for our good. God is for us. Always for us!

Rutted roads walked in the Spirit are places of peace and joy! Places for sanctification, for comfort, for wonderment, for grace, for life! (Psalm 23, Romans 8:18-28, Psalm 91 & 92)

All this waiting, aching, and suffering is very real and very hard. But in this deep pain, our outline of God is obliterated. HALLELUJAH! Only God can define Himself and as we know Him for who HE says HE is, we are gently forced to live not just exist. We are moved to sing not to settle.

Why?

Because we’re hungry for God. We’re listening. We’re watching. We’re ready. Our chasm is wide, but we are not hopeless. Our crushed hearts our tired, but we are overjoyed. We are seeing more clearly and experiencing more good than ever before, because we are finally leaning hard and expectantly into our God who is goodness Himself.

Beauty and pain. Beauty from pain. Beauty in the end. And forevermore.

This is what God can do.

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