There have been exactly seven times in my life that I have wholeheartedly embraced the pain God put in my path. The other million and a half instances of hurt, I have kicked and fought and wrestled under the weight until finally, the ache came to an end.
Like most human beings, I don’t relish the thought of discomfort. I prefer to live a pain-free existence, even though I’m keenly aware that the fall has rendered us all creatures worthy of far worse than the bumps and bruises our bodies and hearts receive in this life. I want to be happy. I want to be safe. I don’t want to worry. I don’t want to face opposition, oppression, danger, deprivation, or trials, challenges, or anything that steals the joy from my days.
And, oh yeah: I want everyone I love to enjoy the same state of being.
That’s why, when I come against the wall of something that pushes me out of my happiness bubble, my eyes start shifting. I find myself looking onto others’ plates, and coveting a slice of the peace on which they seem to be dining. I begin to feel itchy under the perceived burden of my situation. I start asking God to release me from whatever prison I’ve decided is holding my back. And yes, I usually throw a pity party for myself, complete with chocolate and tears.
Household tasks that seem to be stacking up? Surely, Lord, You see my plate is too full. Let me off-load some of these responsibilities. A relationship that seems to beg more of me than I want to offer? Can’t you make her move on, God? Give her a new friend to rely on? Kids whose needs dovetail into the perfect storm just as I have other things I want to do? Are you sure You said “Homeschool all the way through, Lord?”
In every circumstance where I am pulled and pushed and stretch, I start looking for an out before I remember:
There is blessing on the other side of pain.
God disciplines those He loves.
Please, don’t think I’m saying that every bad season, every pain is something through which perseverance is the only way. Six of those times when I chose to endure pain? They brought me babies. That seventh occasion? An abscessed tooth. I was already nearly clawing my face off with crazy pain— but had I chosen not to sit through the terror of having that tooth pulled, well… let’s just say folks used to die from that. If you’re hurting because of abuse, because of poor choices (your own or someone else’s) that have endangered you, because of something deeper than a calling you just don’t like, know that this message is not the one you need.
But if you’re chafing because you have more work than hours in the day, because your best friend is suddenly swept up in her own life and can’t find time for you, the drama at church has bitten off a chunk of your happiness, your husband’s work schedule leaves you alone most evenings, your kids are bringing you more crazy than joy…
Stop. Ask God what He’s doing. Because He knows where you are.
He knows that you’re hurting, that you’re straining, that you feel like something has to give.
And He’s at work, writing a story that you might just understand a year, five, down the road. Or maybe, He’ll never explain it all. That’s His prerogative, after all.
But even if you never know, even if all you do is survive the storm, you’re stronger. You’re better. You’re wiser, and you’ve learned something that you needed, whether you knew you needed it or not.
Don’t run from the hurt, I have to remind myself. Don’t fight to equalize the score at all costs, don’t stretch, always, for the balance that makes you the most comfortable. God is at work here, in these hard places. Let Him teach. Lean into His Word, and listen before you run from the lesson. Life isn’t about being content. It’s about growing, and growing hurts.