Find Purpose Beyond Your Pain
- Friday, December 18, 2009
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Paul Meier & David Livingstone Henderson's new book, Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain: Uncover the Hidden Potential in Life's Most Common Struggles, (Thomas Nelson, 2009).
You can't escape pain in this fallen world, no matter how hard you may try. But neither do you have to suffer in vain. God always has a purpose for allowing pain to enter your life - a purpose that will result in something greater than the pain itself.
Here's how you can find purpose beyond your pain:
Realize that your pain will lead to new growth for you. God promises that He won't have you go through pain without using it to help you grow. If you trust Him, He'll take whatever painful circumstances you encounter and use them to accomplish good purposes in your life. Even pain that seems to have no purpose (such as that which comes from disease, abuse, natural disasters, and wars) can help you grow in positive ways when you trust God with your pain.
Deal with injustice. The pain of injustice helps you learn to trust God's sovereign control in bringing about your good. Accept the reality that you don't have a right to a comfortable, easy life and that you're not entitled to have everything go your way. Injustice strikes the righteous just as much as other people in our fallen world. However, remember that God never causes evil; He only allows it sometimes, to accomplish good purposes. Since He loves us, He has given us free will, and sometimes that results in evil.
So injustice is any act committed against another person that seeks to violate God's good and perfect will for that person's life. But God will make every injustice right, whether in this life or the next. Be confident that no injustice can change the fact that you are God's child. Make a habit of thanking God regularly for His work in your life. Keep a record of injustices that God has worked out for good and other blessings He has given you. Remember that justice deferred is not justice denied. Never give up hope that God will right the wrongs you suffer.
Deal with rejection. The pain of rejection gives you the freedom to live in the light of transparency and find true acceptance from God, yourself, and other people. God already knows everything about you and still chooses to love you completely and unconditionally. So you don't need to strive to try to earn His love, or worry that your sin prevents Him from loving you. Let that knowledge fill you with the confidence to accept yourself. Ask God to help you see yourself in the light of His love. Be open and honest in your relationships with other people, pushing past your fear of rejection to reach out and develop loving bonds with them.
Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes in your relationships, and extend mercy and grace to others when they make mistakes. When others reject you, learn what you can from the experiences, but remember that it may be more about them than it is about you. Also remember that other people's opinions aren't nearly as important as God's opinion of you. Ground your view of yourself in your relationship with God to keep it consistent and stable despite whatever rejection your may encounter from others.
Deal with loneliness. The pain of loneliness helps you truly appreciate the health and loving relationships in your life - especially your most important relationship, with Jesus Christ. Pray for the strength to overcome obstacles to building strong relationships, such as your comfort, success, pride, preferences, and time. Prioritize your relationships by making plenty of time for them in your schedule. Aim to know yourself and other people well.
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