Do you know what it’s like when someone you love is in pain? You desperately want to help, but there’s nothing you can do. If you’re a parent, you already know what it’s like. Your kid might be in pain from falling off a wagon, a broken heart, an unexpected breakup, the flu, or the homesickness of your college freshman.
When you’re in pain – it may be from falling off the wagon, a broken heart, an unexpected text you weren’t supposed to see, losing someone you love, or driving away from dropping off your college freshman. Have you ever listened carefully to what God might be saying to you?
Here are six things that God wants to tell you when you are in the middle of your pain.
1. You Are Not Alone
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the idol King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Their refusal was the result of their allegiance to God.
The three of them were thrown into a giant furnace to be executed. The king looked into the furnace and exclaimed, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25).
God was with them in the fire when they needed him most.
God has promised that he’ll be there when you need him most. Jesus said, in John 14, that we will never be left alone, that he would send the Holy Spirit to be with us and to give us peace.
I can tell you story after story of Christians who found strength in their pain and a feeling of peace they couldn’t explain. The only thing that they were certain of was that God was there in the fire with them.
The Greek word for the Holy Spirit is literally translated to, “The one who comes alongside.” Remember that, when you’re standing in the hospital or funeral home, or when you hear the words you never thought you’d hear. You are not alone. God has come alongside you.
2. I Know How You Feel
Have you ever been in a painful situation and talked to someone then realized the other person has gone through exactly what you’re facing? Something about that connection offers encouragement and strengthens you.
Jesus came to this earth and lived a human life. Given the culture that he grew up in, he was probably judged and talked about because he:
- Had parents that weren’t married when he was born.
- Experienced the death of a parent.
- Struggled financially.
- Was betrayed by friends.
- Had a family who didn’t understand him.
- Was falsely accused.
- Felt abandoned by God.
- Died a horrible death.
Jesus went through what you’re facing and he felt the things that you’re feeling. That’s why the Bible says we can go to him with confidence:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
3. I’m Not Taken by Surprise
What you’re experiencing may have caught you off guard, but it didn’t take God by surprise. We know that he’s aware of our struggle. He’s not clueless, shocked or dismayed. That doesn’t mean he’s not sad. God is compassionate and cares about you and, like any good father, doesn’t like it when you’re hurting.
Take comfort in the fact that God knows what you’re feeling. Don’t lose faith that he is in control. He is absolutely in control. God knows you’re struggling and, more importantly, he knows what he’s doing.
That leads to a fourth thing I think you might hear God tell you in the middle of your pain.
4. Your Pain Has a Purpose
One of the most difficult things about pain is the feeling that it’s pointless. We know there’s a reason for what we’re going through. There is always a reason.
That doesn’t mean that God causes our pain. But it does mean that he can give even our senseless pain a purpose. It also means that he can bring good out of all that’s bad.
“God wants to work in your pain to make you more like Jesus. That means your pain is never in vain. He works in ALL things to produce Christ-like maturity.”
How Does God Use Our Pain?
One way God uses our pain for good is to draw people closer to Christ. 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life.” So, what does that mean for us? The next sentence says, “We should never regret His sending it.”
God also uses pain to make us more like Jesus. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
God uses all things, even painful things, for our good. In verse 29, we get God’s definition of “good.” He defines good as conforming us to the likeness of his son. God wants to work in your pain to make you more like Jesus. That means your pain is never in vain. He works in ALL things to produce Christ-like maturity.
Like the loving father who allows his child to get a painful vaccination shot, God allows pain because he knows it’s for our greater good.
- Perhaps God allows cancer to teach us to value what is eternal.
- God may allow the difficult boss to teach us self-control.
- God might allow unemployment to teach us faith.
- God might allow a colicky baby to teach us patience.
He doesn’t cause all things, but he does cause them to work together for our good. We come out on the other side of it looking a little more like Jesus.
5. The Pain Will Be Over Soon
One time I had to hold my daughter down at the doctor’s office while she got her shots. I tried to say the right things but finally told her we could get some ice cream after she finished. That had the biggest impact on her ability to persevere.
Sometimes we just need to know that our pain is not the end of the story.
In Romans 8:18, Paul – who experienced all kinds of pain – writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” We can endure a lot of pain if we know that something better is coming. It’s easier to persevere when there’s a reward for being faithful during times of testing.
6. There is Something Better
Imagine you are afraid of heights and I offer you $10 to jump out of an airplane. You would say no. I offer $1,000. You say no again. Then I tell you I’ll give you a million dollars. I’m guessing you’d do it. You would agree to the discomfort and danger because of the reward that’s coming.
That’s the perspective we can have because of heaven. It doesn’t deny our pain or how much it hurts. But after maybe 84 years of pain in this life, you will have an eternity of perfect bliss. And after, say, 572,282,325 years of heaven, I don’t think you’ll even remember the pain you had on earth.
There will be no pain in heaven. So, while we may have to suffer some now, we can find hope knowing that something even better than ice cream is coming.
Are you in pain? Are you suffering? I know it hurts. But remember: You are God’s child. You are loved. And, if you listen carefully, you might just hear him whispering, “DON’T GIVE UP!”
Go deeper into Hebrews 11 and 12 with our Free 7-Day Devotional. Each day provides grace-centered devotional content and thoughtful discussion, perfect for personal or group study.
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