By Beth Mabe Gianopulos
Monday, July 3, 2017
“For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:19-21 (NIV)
Pain is something I would prefer to avoid. It doesn’t matter if the pain is physical, emotional, or spiritual – I do not want to feel pain.
Despite my best efforts to avoid pain and to flee from it, I have endured a lifetime of pain in the past two years. When the pain is most intense, the feelings overwhelm me. I do not know what I want and I cannot think of anything that will ease the intensity of the emotions.
My chest constricts and a heavy weight is on my heart. I want to curl into a ball and be alone, yet I want to be held and in the presence of others at the same time. My body screams for action – to hit or kick, yet my body is numb and unable to move.
I cry hot, salty tears until an empty quiet overcomes me. Just when I think I have no tears left, waves of sadness flow through me and I cry until my head throbs and my stomach is unsettled.
In so many ways, pain is a paradox. The emotions are inconsistent and contradictory, and pain is impossible to explain. However, when you say that you are in pain, everyone understands what you mean. In that way, pain is universal.
No matter how intense my pain may be, I can always find someone else whose suffering is even more intense than my own. If I truly open up about my pain, I often find that so many people can share their own experience with intense pain, and in that way, we are connected by our pain.
Yet, despite the commonality of pain, pain is also intensely personal and unique. Even though everyone around me may have suffered, no one has my exact story – no one has suffered my exact pain.
In that way, my pain is isolating and unique to me – no one has, and no one will, experience pain in the same way that I do.
Paul knew about pain. Paul was imprisoned, and prisons in Paul’s time were dirty and dark. Yet despite Paul’s unfair, depressing circumstances, he wrote, “For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Philippians 1:19 (NIV).
Paul was able to write these words because he had confidence that no matter what happened to him - persecution, life, or death - Christ would use it for his deliverance.
When I am drowning in the depths of oceans of pain, it is near impossible to see how such raw suffering could ever be used for my deliverance. When I am in the pit of despair, I, like Paul, must cling to the hope and promises of God.
Paul goes on to say, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” >Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV).
In the intensity of our pain, we must cling to the expectation and hope that God will give us courage like Paul. We can live with confidence that our suffering will be redeemed.
Jesus, Thank You for transforming our pain and suffering. When we are trapped in the depths of intense suffering, remind us that our pain will be used for our deliverance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2017 by Beth Mabe Gianopulos. All rights reserved.
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