Jesus’ pain had a purpose…and so does ours…

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-4

I once heard a story about a Florida man who owned an orange grove. This man would only give his trees what they needed to survive; at times he starved their roots for water. As the trees grew, their roots had to dig deeper in search of water, therefore it took longer for them to produce a crop. The other farmers laughed as they pulled in their harvest each year, but the man knew what he was doing. You see, Florida has these occasional natural disasters called hurricanes. Well, a particularly strong hurricane came through this man’s grove and the winds tore at the trees, stripping them of their leaves. The same was true for the groves in the surrounding area…with one major difference. Since the man’s trees had deep roots, they remained standing strong, maybe a broken branch or two, but as a whole, they were intact. As for the other groves, their trees had shallow roots; they had no reason to dig any deeper. Those trees were easily ripped from the ground and shattered into pieces, destroying the tree. The end result, the man who took the time to allow his trees to grow deeper roots, despite having to wait longer for his trees to mature, was able to pull in bountiful harvests for years while the others had to pick up the pieces and start fresh.

Well, we are not trees, but this story can still apply to how and why God allows bad things to happen in our lives. A very wise friend of mine once said, “God will never let the pain, surpass its purpose,” Stephanie Clayton. God isn’t out to punish His children; that is not what He is about, He is Love. Therefore, what He permits us to go through stems from that love. For some, it will take a hurricane experience and complete brokenness in order for us to allow God to work in our hearts. For others, it may only take glancing blows to help them dig their roots deep into His Word, taking shelter in His arms. Let me give you an example…

I have received glancing blows throughout my life. On more than one occasion, I have been sexually assaulted, but never raped. Each time, I had to press into God’s Word, even though, I felt so far from His presence, surrounded instead by grief, shame, and guilt. My parents divorced when I was in middle school. Though it was not mutual, they divorced peacefully. We could visit our father whenever we wanted to; we were not bound by “visitation rights.” Once again, I found myself digging into God’s Word. More recently, I lost my step-mother to suicide in the same week I miscarried our first child. Yet, both were still only glancing blows. I loved my step-mother very much, but I moved away soon after she and my father were married, so we did not build a strong relationship. When we lost our first child, it was very early in our pregnancy, only five weeks along. They were both painful experiences, but once again…they could have been much worse. Lastly, only two weeks ago we laid my Aunt Sandy to rest after a  very fast 2 1/2 month losing battle with pancreatic cancer. She left behind a loving husband and two wonderful kids.

I am not trying to downplay the pain I experienced, but neither will I turn them into something they are not. What I do see them as, are my Father’s way of helping me to dig my roots deeply into His Word. In this way, when a true hurricane comes along, {not that I’m inviting God to send one my way} though I may be blown about, stripped of my leaves, and end up with a broken limb or two…I will be able to stand strong, because I’m standing firmly on His Word.

God understands pain very well…

He had to stand by watching His Son suffer on the cross, knowing He could not intervene. Oh He could have, it was well within His power and Christ’s power to free Christ from that cross. Every angel could have been called in…as if They would have needed their help anyway…and rescued Christ from this grizzly, painful death. Instead, God leaves Him alone…because He knows that His Son’s pain had a greater purpose. How He must have agonized watching Him as He alternated pushing up on His nail pierced feet in order to breathe and hanging from His nail pierces hands, slowly suffocating. The thorns pressed into His brow. His Son’s blood slowly draining from His many wounds. But there was purpose…and there was love behind that purpose. It is through His death that we are set free. Free from sin, death, and the clutches of the Evil One.

Christ’s pain had purpose…and so does ours…

You may have been going through life with blow after blow, wondering why God keeps sending these storms your way and when they will end. But these are opportunities for you to draw closer to what you need most…your heavenly Father. For others, glancing blows may not be enough to surrender yourself fully into God’s hands. God knows what it will take to move your heart. Some of you may find yourself in the middle of a hurricane, or perhaps right now you are trying to piece together your brokenness. What I invite you to do is something that may sound frightening and counter intuitive. Leave your brokenness on the ground and let God be the One to put you back together. Allow Him to use your broken pieces to make you a new creation. One that will mature to a place where even when another hurricane or just a glancing blow comes along, you will be able to stand firm on His Word.

Heavenly Father,

There are times when we just don’t understand why you have allowed things to happen in our lives. Painful things. It’s at these times that we find it so hard to understand how anything good could possibly come out of what we’ve had to go through. And it’s during these times that we have to dig deep. We have to stop relying on what we are feeling, but instead rely on what we know. You experienced agony as You watched Your only Son hang painfully on a wooden cross. You had to stop Yourself from rescuing Him from the suffering He endured for hours as He hung there, struggling for breath. You knew the pain You and Your Son endured had a much greater purpose…it rescued us from sin, freed us from the fear of death, and from the clutches of the Evil One. Therefore, we must know and believe that even though we cannot yet understand; our pain always has a greater purpose. Help us to trust You even during times when we just don’t understand why…or how this trial, this pain will be for our benefit. When we reflect on the cross of Christ, help us to remember that You are LOVE, that His suffering has a purpose…and so does ours. Amen.

Please visit my friend Wendy Blight‘s blog to be entered to win a year’s subscription to the Proverbs 31 Magazine.

 

Another powerful article…

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