We don’t usually think of pain as something positive. We usually recoil from it, numb it, avoid thinking about it. Yet from that first painful cry that a baby makes when it tries out its new lungs – we can see that pain is a sign of life.
No matter the pain that you’re experiencing.
No matter how destructive or meaningless it seems, nor how difficult it is to bear; we must trust that in our walk with Christ: “all things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28).
We must trust God to show us how to deal with pain and transform it into positive pain.
What do I mean by positive pain? I mean that not all pain is bad. There is the pain of the surgical incision – which restores health. The pangs of labour which come before new life. The burn of an intense workout. The warning pain you get when you touch something too hot to handle. Then there are the strikes and blows that come at you when you take a battle stand against evil. These kinds of pain are good, restorative, creative, healthy and life-sustaining. We need these kinds of pain in our life.
When predicting His death on the cross to His disciples, Jesus used the example of a woman giving birth to illustrate the reason for all the pain that was to come. Anticipating the rejection, torture and spiritual abandonment Jesus was to go through – and which the disciples would live alongside Him – Jesus compares it to the birth pangs of a woman in labour:
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.John 16:21-22
Pain isn’t meaningless – God has a purpose built into pain. Jesus’ suffering on the cross to redeem creation is the prime example of that.
Sometimes it’s easy to see the purpose of a painful situation. Other times, it’s not so easy and we have to have faith until it becomes clearer. Yet we must trust in God’s character to know that there must be some good thing being birthed through it.
Free Christian Printables!
Are you ready to ask for the pain you carry to be transformed into a positive force? Are you ready to eliminate the effects of hatred and resentment through forgiveness? God’s certainly ready to help you if you are.
Here are three tips on how you can do your part not just to deal with pain, but to help transform your pain into a positive force. Access the free Christian printables that accompany the first and third tips by subscribing to the email updates and going to the Resources Page.
#1 How to Deal with Pain: Forgiveness
So often, the problem with pain isn’t so much the pain itself but the side effects of the pain. One of the most tragic consequences of injustice, unkindness and other forms by which people are hurt – is the hatred and resentment that often follow. In this way we are served a double portion of harm. Not only are we wounded in some way but the wound inflicted infects us with a deadly disease which twists us up inside and makes it more difficult for us to love as we were made to.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to forgive. You have little control over the harm other people will inflict on you. Nevertheless, you do have some control over how to respond to that harm. You can create within yourself a climate conducive to the disease of hatred. Alternatively, you can start applying the soothing, healing medicine of forgiveness.
It may take time for the medicine to have an effect. You may need to prescribe yourself regular doses. Then prescribe it for yourself all over again. But with time you will heal and become so much more whole than if you allowed the resentment to fester.
I got the idea for the following resource from a great book about forgiveness called ‘Forgiving what you can’t forget’ by Lysa Terkeurst. In it she describes a very similar activity which her therapist got her to do.
How to Use the Free Christian Printable:
Download and print the forgiveness chart and its accompanying pages. Then, fill out the chart with all the things that you need to forgive. Try to include as much as you can. If you can think of more things than the chart allows – why not print out another chart?!
Next, you pray through the hurts. Describe everything that happened, the consequences of what happened and how it’s left you feeling today. Then say that you forgive them.
Once you’ve forgiven, place one of the cut out red hearts from the next page of the resource onto the box where you’ve written the bad thing you’ve forgiven. The heart is red to symbolise Jesus’ blood. He’s covered for that wrong, just as He covered for the bad things you’ve done against other people. It’s His responsibility to bring about justice, in His way – not yours.
#2 How to Deal with Pain: Find the Lessons, Find the Blessings
In Romans it is said that: ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good – for those who are called according to his purpose.’ (Romans 8:28).
As Christians we trust that there is good working through the heartbreak and the mess. This being so, it’s worth taking a step back from a difficult situation or experience to try to work out how God may be using it.
Is He trying to teach you something?
Is the pain you’re experiencing going to be used to help others with similar pain?
Or is there a hidden blessing in the midst of it all?
With the benefit of hindsight perhaps you’ll look back and see that if you hadn’t gone through all that you did, you wouldn’t be where you are now, or able to be the blessing to those around you that you are.
Keep on the lookout. The golden threads of blessing are sure to be woven – however obscured – in the situation around you.
#3 How to Deal with Pain: Is there an Attack on your Identity?
In the difficult situation you find yourself in, are there some lies that are contaminating the lessons you might be learning?
Quite often, when things are going wrong, we find ourselves questioning things: what we believe, our priorities, ourselves. Some of this questioning is healthy. God can teach us through these moments. We should however also make sure that, whilst everything we believe seems to be up in the air, we don’t start believing things about ourselves that aren’t true.
Remember, no matter what people might be saying about you or what condemnatory thoughts you might find yourself having – God has always had the first and final word about anything and everything in His creation.
With His word He made all His creation (let there be light!) and with His word made flesh (Jesus) He redeemed it. His voice is the one from which your true identity is determined and so you must not become distracted, confused or hurt by the barrage of voices flowing contrary to His.
When Jesus’ identity was attacked by the Devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), He used Bible verses to fight back and keep Himself rooted in reality. The following resource is designed to help you do that too. I call it: ‘The Attack on Identity Chart’.
How to Use the Free Christian Printable:
In the ‘Attack’ column, write areas where you feel that your Biblical identity has been undermined. For example, you might write: ‘A family member always treats me like a child, even though I’m a grown adult.’
Next, ask yourself – what are the lies that make this event an attack on my Biblical identity? For example, in the situation mentioned above, you might write: ‘The family member thinks I’m incapable of doing responsible tasks’.
Finally, find a verse that will help remind you that the attack on your identity is a lie. For example: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13).
Prompts for Thought:
What do you find most difficult about forgiveness? Is it because you feel some need for revenge? Or because you don’t think the person who did you wrong deserves forgiveness?
What difficult situations in your life can you now see God has used to teach or prepare you for something?
Which verses do you find most helpful in remembering who you are in God’s eyes?
Do you have any other strategies for dealing with pain in your life?
As always, I’d love to hear your answers in the comments!