The Hidden Purpose of Pain

Pain. No one likes it. No one in their right mind would seek it out.  Pain. It is inevitable in life, yet why do we seem so surprised when it knocks at our door?  How can we embrace pain as a gift from God while still seeking deliverance? How can we endure pain if we believe that there is no purpose for this event?

Let me first say that I have endured some levels of pain in my life.  I have had some serious illnesses, surgeries, sudden death of my dad at age 20, agonizing silence of waiting for God to bring deliverance for a problem, and yet I have yet to experience the agony that many people endure for the sake of the Gospel.  There are so many situations of suffering that God has spared me from enduring and I have been shown His undeserving Grace. 

So, how do I respond to others when they wonder how to deal with suffering? 

This December I had the opportunity to meet some young women who had been adopted from foreign countries.  Their stories have a happy ending, but they both had a very painful road.  As they tried to see some purpose for why their lives had to take so many horrific paths, I was reminded of some people in history that probably wondered the same thing.

The first person is Joseph, the son of Jacob.  He was left for dead and sold into slavery by his brothers.  Then he spent a number of years in prison after falsely being accused of a crime he didn’t commit.  Wow, now that’s a tough life.  While he was enduring his hardship he had no idea what the outcome would be and when or if his deliverance would come.  He had no idea that he would be given a position of high importance enabling him to deliver his people from starvation…all because he was put into slavery and sold to that particular country.  As Joseph said, “what man meant for evil, God meant for good.” 

The second person is Squanto…you know, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter in a new land.  What you may not know, is that he just happened to speak English only because he had been captured as a slave by some “Englishmen” and brought back to Europe with them.  At some point he ended up hearing the Gospel and some believe he became a Christian.  His capture proved to be even more providential when he finally returned back to America to find his whole village dead from a sickness.  It was no “accident” that the Pilgrims landed at the same spot as where his village had lived.  The Pilgrims wanted to sail further south, but winter was setting in and they were running out of time, so they had to stay put.  Had Squanto not been taken as a slave, he too would be dead.  Does that mean that it was “right” that those people took him as a slave?  Of course not!  But, it does mean that there was a purpose…”what man meant for evil, God meant for good”.  His knowledge saved the lives of many Pilgrims who would have otherwise perished. 

As I reflect back on the two young women who were adopted I am amazed to hear how they came to Christ.  Had they not endured such a horrible start to their life would they have been given the opportunities that they now have with their loving family?  I believe God will use their past sufferings to not only bring God Glory, but use them to minister the the needs of other young girls who are struggling with adoption, abandonment, and loss.  I am so excited to see what God has planned for their lives.  If you would like to read more about their story take a look at their family’s blog site highlighting the adoption of 8 of their 11 kids.

May all pain lead us to see more clearly the Glory of God and make us more like Jesus….which is a good thing!

Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment  

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