Every trial that we encounter has a purpose attached to it! This may not be a popular statement, but it’s a necessary and encouraging one.
One of the last conversations that I had with an ex-girlfriend ended with me sweeping up the shattered pieces of a broken candle holder that she knocked off of my living room table. This ultimately signified what our relationship eventually became, a significant amount of broken pieces that couldn’t be repaired.
The broken pieces of my heart, shattered dreams, fractured feelings, and the future we planned was figuratively brushed into the dust pan and emptied into the trash. Even after this heated discussion, God realigned our paths for a short while but eventually separated us once again. Although I wasn’t primarily responsible for the pain I felt, I possessed the responsibility of how I perceived it.
This made me think about a question that I was asked during an assignment in graduate school.
“Is all pain bad?”
I learned that every form of pain includes discomfort, but it shouldn’t always be perceived negatively.
The word pain can be defined as a feeling of physical, mental or emotional suffering. One may ask: “What’s positive or pleasing about dealing with hardships and heartbreak?"
One of the reasons that God allows us to encounter a painful season is to reveal certain things to us. Just imagine if we didn’t feel any pain from a fractured ankle. We could potentially walk around with this foot defect forever. The pain from an injury typically leads to a hospital visit. The described symptoms along with an X-Ray would ultimately reveal the severity of the injury. Without pain, this visit or trip to hospital would’ve never happened.
The same applies to our walk with God. Some of us know and live by the saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it." Sometimes God wants us to make changes in our lives, and he understands that pain or pressure are the only things that will initiate it!
Reveal and Release Our Problems
Earlier this year, a police officer that shot and murdered a young African American male was not found guilty or held accountable for his actions. Initially, I was shocked and saddened by the verdict of this trial.
One may ask, what did this pain ultimately reveal to our city? It exposed the racism that still exists in our city along with the flaws that exist in our judicial system.
Reflecting on the protests that followed the trial and the death of this young man, I also realized that this is the only time that we truly rally together as a community. I love and strongly support the “Black Lives Matter” movement, but this movement would carry greater power if the lives of African American men and women mattered more to African American people or if we rallied together to celebrate African American college graduates!
It appears that we express more outrage and anger when it comes to police brutality than the crime that happens within our own neighborhood. In my opinion, police brutality is treated as a sin while “black on black crime” is treated as the norm. My purpose of discussing this isn’t to start a debate on what’s worst. It’s to reveal that there are significant problems in both the world and the community.
After the death of Nipsey Hussle, an African American Rapper and Entrepreneur, there was a noticeable increase of appreciation for black men on social media. Why did it take his death to generate more admiration for the Black Man? Jesus already died on the cross for this!
The New Living Translation of Galatians 5:13 says the following: “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Jesus didn’t make a selfless sacrifice for us to live selfishly. We are all brothers and sisters, and our love shouldn’t be limited to our race or gender.
I’ve learned that we will extend our suffering if we don’t discover the purpose of our pain.
After watching my last relationship fail over and over again, I finally realized that my heart would continue to suffer if we continuously reconciled just to disconnect a few weeks later. I began to realize that I couldn’t heal someone that wasn’t fully committed to their own healing or a person who didn’t realize that they needed to.
I also learned that I would subject myself to additional suffering by attempting to do God’s work in addition to what I’ve been assigned to do. I shouldn’t be surprised at the fatigue and frustration that I feel in this season. I’ve been working harder than God wants me to. I was trying to devote time to my calling along with helping someone recover from a life of traumatic experiences at the same time.
After being constantly burned out and lacking the energy for my calling, I began to realize that it was a result of managing MY ASSIGNMENT from God, and HIS WORK too!
I struggled a lot with this because of being a naturally healing person, but I started to realize that this was no longer my “patient” and that God was the only doctor that could heal her. I was trying to create my own narrative when it came this chapter in my life. Love ultimately does conquer all, but true love is trusting someone or something in God’s hands more than your own.
I had to humble myself and understand that every battle wasn’t mine. I also realized that I would continue to hurt myself by trying to be a savior in every situation. At the end of the day, there’s only one savior and that isn’t me. It’s JESUS! This is the reason that some or most of us feel overwhelm at times. We are carrying more weight than God assigned to us carry.
The Easy To Read Version Translation of 2 Corinthians 20:15 mentions the following:
“...The Lord says this to you: ‘Don’t be afraid or worry about this large army, because the battle is not your battle. It is God’s battle!”
The first part of 2 Corinthians 20:17 goes on to add: “You will not have to fight this battle. Just take up your positions and wait; you will see the LORD give you victory.” (Good News Bible Translation)
We’ll ultimately lengthen our season of suffering if we continue to fight battles that don’t belong to us. Fatigue will be attached to every season if we don’t develop and demonstrate greater faith in God. As the scripture states, just take up your position and wait!
One of the greatest demonstrations of our faith is the willingness to surrender to God. The word surrender can be defined as giving up the possession of something into the power of another. Instead of trying to solve problems on our own, we have to learn to escalate them to our spiritual supervisor. Surrender your issues to someone with greater authority!
If we learn to release what’s in our hands, God will release what’s in his! The only way to receive healing is to relinquish your hurt!
When I thought about pain having a purpose in our lives, I immediately thought of the man born blind in the Bible.
The Good News Bible Translation of John 9: 1-3 describes it’s this way:
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents' sin?” Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents' sins. He is blind so that God's power might be seen at work in him.”
When we find ourselves in a painful season or situation, we often associate it with sinful activity. We have to learn that every painful encounter has a purpose, and it’s doesn’t involve any form of punishment. God may be placing us in a situation similar to the blind man described in the scripture. This man was born without sight for a reason. It wasn’t because he or his parents did something wrong. It was to demonstrate that God could provide vision to a man who lacked the ability to see!
Listen to how The New Living Translation describes it (John 9: 6-7):
“Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!”
Our problems ultimately reveal God’s power and his ability to correct them. If we never had a problem, how would we learn that he can solve them? Romans 8:28 wouldn’t be my favorite scripture if I didn’t watch him turn EVERY part of my life into something good!
“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28 MSG)
Our pain doesn’t only reveal God’s power, it also reveals the power that he placed in us. Listen to what Jesus says to the disciples after they discovered that the tomb was empty (John 20: 21-23)
“...Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (New Living Translation)
One thing that I’m learning in 2019 is the power of forgiveness. Not only do we to have forgive to move forward, we possess the power to do it. If we forgive someone for sinful activity, they are forgiven. If we decide not to, they remain connected to it. The last time that I checked, God is the only one that can forgive us for sin. What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! This scripture ultimately reveals that we have this same power! We have the ability to forgive and free other people from sin.
This reiterates the significance of what we have to release. Holding onto hurt prevents healing and puts a limit on the power that God placed within us! Forgiveness is an opportunity to release our past to activate our power! Why would you want to retain old burdens when God wants to release new blessings? There is no power in being petty, but there is power in forgiving someone who hurt you!
In order to progress and stay aligned with my purpose, I had forgive any and every person that hurt me. I realized that if I aspired to be like Jesus and become a leader of his people, I couldn’t do this holding onto grudges or living with a “forgive not forget” mentality.
The Easy To Read Bible Translation describes Jesus’ final supper before his death this way (Matthew 26: 20-21)
“In the evening Jesus was at the table with the twelve followers. They were all eating. Then Jesus said, “Believe me when I say that one of you twelve here will hand me over to my enemies.”
Verse 25 goes onto add:
“Then Judas, the very one who would hand him over, said to Jesus, “Teacher, surely I am not the one you are talking about, am I?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”
Why would Jesus allow Judas to sit at the table during the last supper if he knew that he agreed to betray him? Jesus knew that it wouldn’t alter God’s plan for his life. Not forgiving someone that betrayed you will delay everything that God has for you. Forgiveness is what ultimately makes his plan flow, and the last supper was a great example of this. The spirit that God placed within us gives us the power to conquer anything! Sometimes an uncomfortable or painful encounter is the necessary force to initiate this power within us!
Reveal The Proximity of Your Purpose
Pain is often an indicator of how close we are to prosperity and the next phase of our purpose. This made me think about the difference stages of a woman’s pregnancy. Research has shown that the most painful phase of this process is going into labor. This typically involves most of a woman’s body tightly contracting every two to three hours for a minute at a time.
The Message Translation of Romans 8:22-25 describes pregnancy by stating the following:
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”
We’ve learned that pain can indicate an existing problem, and initiate the power that God placed within us. Pain can also insinuate the distance between us and the birth of something special in our lives!