Pain in real.
Suffering happens daily.
Trials unexpectedly pounce from behind bushes and come screaming down the road from miles away.
We learn in childhood that life isn’t fair.
Some people are merely acquaintances with troubles, while others have been plunged into fiery furnaces.
But amidst the harsh conditions of this life, hope is alive. Peace is at hand. Joy is attainable.
Pain can be redeemed.
And the constant truth is that there is always something to be thankful for. And gratitude fosters joyful perseverance in amazing ways.
We can never lose sight of the gospel. The whole gospel. Christ came to earth being fully God and fully man. He fulfilled prophecies. He died on the cross. He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits enthroned now and forever.
While we face struggles, we must hold tight to the gospel and rest assured in the fact that Jesus Christ conquered sin and death. His resurrection and ascension give meaning to the crucifixion.
And there is a redeeming purpose behind our pain.
Pain can grow us and mature us. Pain can foster a heart of gratitude, compassion, and mercy within us. Pain can help us turn our eyes from ourselves and to our Heavenly Father.
When I was in middle school a friend led me to read Joel. And I will never forget it.
The prophet Joel witnessed an awful locust plague. There are different opinions as to what the locusts refer to. But nevertheless, calamity struck Judah. But hope arrives in chapter two as the people are called to repentance and to turn to the Lord once again.
Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people. The Lord answered and said to his people, “Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations. I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his vanguard into the eastern sea, and his rear guard into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield. Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”
God restores the years the locust had eaten! He sends His Spirit! What joyous news!
The theme of my life has been that God is good and faithful.
No matter what we face, we can always look back on our lives and through Scripture and be reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness. God is Emmanuel. He is always with us.
He is good.
He is faithful.
And He redeems our pain.