What to Do with Pain
We all know it.
That hint of a chill that makes things clench, subtle heaviness dragging at joy, icy fingers that reach silently into your soul and twist. I felt it creeping in the other day the way a fog crawls over a lake. Pain—insinuating itself into the midst of my day, my life. Clouding the clarity. Reminding me that some things still aren’t right. Some things still hurt.
I’ve never been a fan of anything that hurts—physically, emotionally, relationally.
We all do similar things to avoid or ease it. We give ourselves positive pep-talks, seek therapy, engage in self-care rituals.
For believers, we know the overarching Truth about pain. In this world, we will have trouble, but we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
First of all, I say yes and amen! God’s Words are True and never fall to the ground. Without downplaying the validity of that, however, I would venture to say that we all feel a bit ragged at times. Sometimes, we pray and the painful problem doesn’t just scatter like storm clouds blown by wind. We pray and wait and believe and the pain is still there because the circumstance hasn’t changed or the family member isn’t coming back or the ship has sailed. Realities have to be faced and they hurt! And sometimes the Bible verses people love to remind us of can rub us raw. That is because we often forget that Truth must be lived out, not just read or repeated.
Only a deep-down, sought-after, daily practice of Truth, anchored in the Word Himself will bring any transformation. And that’s what we’re after, right? Change.
When pain presses close, it’s so easy to feel trapped in a sinkhole, wondering why God won’t just make it disappear. Believe me, Christ is right there in that pit with us. But He didn’t give His Spirit for us to stay there. And as always, we have a lot more to do with our levels of freedom than we often realize.
What can we do with pain that remains?
I want to tell you two things about the advice that will follow.
First, these exhortations flowed into my mind like a peaceful tide when I lifted up my own persistent ache to the Lord and asked for help. The biggest thing we can do for ourselves in life is to stay open to the Holy Spirit, bringing everything before Him and trusting that He will give life to your perspective. Don’t just sit and fester in your own limited view. Before I had even formed my brokenness into an actual question, His Answer was painted across my mind like a banner. That’s His Heart!
Secondly, these are things that I’m actually doing. They are part of my daily walk, even when it’s more of a struggle than a stroll. But it’s the persistent steps that get you through. Purpose to be more persistent than your sorrow. Outwork your adversary. If your pain is going to hang on, then so will you!
When I lifted up my grief to the Lord, this is what He said. These were the things He encouraged me to do with my pain.
~Abide in God’s constant care, lavish love, and forever faithfulness. Talk to Him, listen, stay in the Word. Let the Holy Spirit remind you of who your God is. Everything you will ever need springs from WHO HE IS! You need a daily intake. (Psalm 37:3).
~Stay excited and expectant about your life. As you delight in God’s Character, you will advance into new levels of His Heart, and He will start to reveal new things He is going to do in and through you. Rejoice in them, cover them in prayer, and look forward to them, even if you don’t have all the details yet. Just like we need short-term goals in life, things to look forward to throughout the weeks and months, God wants to let you in on new things He has around the corner for you. We aren’t meant to plateau or “retire” in our Christian walks. God is always moving. Lean into Him to hear what’s next. And if you’re not sure, ask Him (Ephesians 2:10).
~Allow the pain to be there. Don’t fight it, curse, it, ignore it, or become consumed by it. This seems counterintuitive, but I’m not talking about bitter resignation. Just let it be there. Don’t try to fight your way back to the old normal. Don’t view your life as defined by this pain. You will break into new levels of growth the day you realize that you can function and even thrive with pain still blooming in certain areas. Be persistent in asking God to heal it, but in the meantime, learn to view it as material for sacrifice and offer it up daily to God’s Faithfulness. Ask the Spirit to call to your mind areas of hopelessness that He’s redeemed before. Remember, He can do it again! Be honest with God about your pain and allow Him to sustain you with Himself. (Matthew 11:30; Psalm 34:18).
~Allow God to have the final word over this particular issue. Be careful what you declare over yourself when you’re in pain (Jeremiah 15:19). The goal is to abide so closely with God that it is His Perspective that you’re declaring and moving in response to. If this seems like a lofty aspiration, that’s because it is. But it’s what we were made to do.
The voice of pain is loud and insistent. It’s easy to feel consumed by the parts of your heart that hurt. But only the Healer Himself can fully mend and redeem what’s been shattered. He is before all things and it’s in Him that all things hold together—even your brokenness (Colossians 1:17).
God fully understands every twist of your pain. He offered His own Heart up for the breaking. And He purchased us a life beyond the pull of this world. Peace, joy, healing. Even in this world.
We are designed to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…” (Colossians 1:9-12).