Just part of being human, or something more?
James the brother of Jesus says that we should consider pain a joyful
experience. Listen to these challenging words in James 1:2-4 ESV
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various
kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces
steadfastness. And let steadfastness has its full effect that you may
be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”.
Counting our painful experiences as joyful seems a bit absurd until
you understand pains unique purpose. Pain comes in many packages. It
can physical, emotional or relational. Painful experiences can strike
at any moment. Last year during a race I had an accident and four
tendons in my right hand were severed as a fellow ski racer ran into me.
One moment I was skiing down the hill the next moment my son is
rushing me to the ER; my hand wrapped in a towel bleeding.
Frustration mounted as I tried to use my
hand, but it just wouldn’t work. I kept telling my mind to move the
fingers but they just sat there motionless. I wondered; “would it ever
be normal again”. It was a grueling day of waiting in ER for a surgeon
with a continual struggle to stop the bleeding. Finally after ten hours
of waiting, the ER doctor located a trauma surgeon who was willing to
come in and repair my damaged hand. During our pre-op counsel he
assured us that extension tendons heal well, once their reconnected in a
few hours. I was very thankful for this amazing surgeon who was
willing to come in on his day off and help me.
Eleven months later after 6 months of physical therapy and God’s
miraculous healing I have a hand that works. It really is a miracle to
type this post right now because months ago that was not possible.
Where’s the “joy” in this experience? It’s not in the pain itself
but rather the unique growth experience pain provides. When James says:
“count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds” he is saying
the purpose of painful experiences is to produce spiritual maturity and
that’s what brings the joy.
Another purpose of painful trials is to test our faith. Testing
produces genuine faith and builds greater endurance. Endurance grows
because we learn to endure the pain in our life. Pains unique purpose
encourages us to embrace the troubles and afflictions life brings
maturing us and making us more complete. Painful trials produce
character that cannot be found in comfort. It moves us from arrogance
to empathy, from being critical of others to caring for them. Pain
purifies! It produces a posture of humility; healing our heart of
distractions and diseases that distance us from Christ.
Let’s ponder our pain.