“How many of you have felt pain?” I asked my students, as we opened our science books to a chapter on the nervous system.
Nineteen hands shot into the air. Some shared stories of broken bones, burns, and other mishaps.
Then I asked another question. “How many of you have thanked God for the pain?”
All hands dropped. The faces of the nine-to-eleven-year-olds registered surprise, even shock. Umm… no! We hate pain, Miss Jeanette! We don’t thank God for pain!
They rebelled against the mere thought of physical pain being a blessing. And I wasn’t surprised at their horrified reaction to my question. I’ve felt the same way about emotional pain. In fact, when we sang the hymn “More Love to Thee” in church, I kept silent during the third verse. “Let sorrow do its work, send grief and pain…???” No! I didn’t want that. I got enough pain in my life without asking God for it.
I still don’t understand the reasons behind a lot of the pain we face. And maybe that’s not important. You see, in the book of Job, God had the golden opportunity to explain the whys of hardships. But He never told Job the reason of his horrible pain. Instead God told Job of His power, His creativity, His omniscience, His loving way of dealing the world He created. And for Job that was enough.
For me, it is enough too. To know that God is orchestrating my entire life- the joys and the pains- is enough. To know that God will be there is enough.
When I can trust God through difficult times, I allow myself to open to learning. After all, a hard week teaches me more than a year of euphoria ever will.
First, it provides an excellent opportunity to deepen my faith. It’s fairly easy to trust that God is good when all’s sunshine and roses. But when you see no hope on the horizon, that’s when faith comes in.
Loneliness teaches me to realize that God truly is enough. When I’m surrounded by friends and family, it’s difficult to see how much I need God.
Physical pain serves to remind me that my joy comes from within. God provides my joy, not my circumstances.
Rejection from people around me teaches me to place my value in Christ. When everyone applauds everything I do, it’s hard to remember who I really am. But when people respond negatively, God invites me to search the Bible for who He says I am.
Grief and disappointments show the fickleness of this earthly life. They create a longing for our heaven home.
The list could go on. Seriously, I am thinking of so many more things I’ve learned through difficult situations. I won’t bore you with listing all of them, because I’m sure you’ve learned many of the same.
I, for one, am grateful for pain. (As were my students after we discussed diseases like leprosy, which shows that pain is even good for us physically.) I thank God for the truths He’s taught me during my darkest times. The lessons aren’t always easy to accept, but I value them enough to never pray for an easy day, an easy school week, or an easy life. I now sing every verse of “More Love to Thee” 🙂 . After all, finally I understand the last part of the verse too:
Sweet are [pain’s] messengers,
Sweet [sorrow and grief’s] refrain,
When they can sing with me,
More love, O Christ, to thee!
P.S. I don’t want to give the impression that my life has been horrible or super painful. It hasn’t. God blesses me with many beautiful days filled with laughter and all the good things in life. But one thing at time… My next blog post will be more fun 😉