From December 2008
I’ve been thinking lately about the value of pain in our lives. I’ve noticed that very often our experiences are so vastly different from one another.
I think about my dad who lived with severe pain since his teen years when he was a POW in German prison camps and endured beatings, starvation, forced marches, and exposure in the frozen wilderness areas of Poland and Germany. His physical suffering over the years affected his mental and emotional health and it affected his relationships – primarily with his wife and children.
I know some people who have never really experienced long term pain. I’ve been thinking about the value of pain in our lives, from God’s point of view. I think about folks like Joni Erickson Tada who has suffered for decades and Corrie ten Boom whose sister and father died in pain and who also suffered much at the hands of the Nazis.
What is the value of pain in the eyes of God?
The world certainly sees no value in pain and does anything and everything to avoid it — at ALL costs and sometimes even to its own detriment! Job experienced physical and emotional pain and determined at the end that it allowed him to see God in a very real way that he never knew Him before.
I know that in my own life, it is very easy to try to rest in my own strength without pain. I feel like I can handle things on my own. When I’m struggling with pain, I find that even speaking cheerfully to my children is a labor and I cannot do it apart from the power of God; let alone being able to accomplish the tasks and responsibilities that are mine each day as a wife and mother.
I find walking in the joy of the Lord is not just a platitude, it becomes a lifeline for my mental health and walk of faith.
I guess God does His own special and unique works in each of our hearts and lives through the trials He chooses to bless each of us with. The one that God seems to have designed for me is the concept of Joy in the Lord. Over the past 10-15 years I have learned so much about walking in the joy of the Lord – but only see how sorely I fail and how dearly I need to understand and experience it more. But I have also seen that it IS the lifeline that keeps me connected to His Love and it is the strength of my faith.
When I lose my joy, I lose sight of God and I begin to flounder in the muck and mire of the circumstances around me. When I choose to walk in His joy, I feel that nothing else matters except for God and His love. And that begins to affect how I view and act toward all those around me; and it affects how I view and act toward God. So, Nehemiah wasn’t just whistling Dixie when he said, “the joy of the Lord is your strength”!
Now to go out and draw on HIS strength and power to allow me to do just that.
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