“It hurts just as much as it’s worth.”
We all hate pain. We’ll do whatever we can to get out of a situation that we believe might cause us to suffer...in even the smallest measure.
Yet all of us experience pain. Physical, emotional and spiritual - each just as hurtful as the others and just as real. When pain comes to believers, how do we cope? Do we see it as a means of sanctification or do we try to escape?
At STP, the leaders don’t shy away from engaging heavy topics, and so we’ve been hearing talks on and dialoguing over the issues of pain and suffering quite a bit this summer…because it’s such a universal issue. Eric Lonergan and Nate Van Zee have been talking about this in a lot of detail, as well as what it means to have a Gospel perspective in the midst of suffering.
Waiting in pain
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Psalm 37:7-11)
The word “wait” in Hebrew is a very active verb meaning to hope in to look for. It doesn’t mean sitting back and watching; it means actively engaging what we have to hope in: the Gospel. We must actively refrain from fretting - being angry or aroused in a negative way - by our pain and what seems like the success of the wicked. Instead we must remind ourselves that God will deliver justice one day, but it is not up to us to decide how or when. We must preach the Gospel to ourselves in the midst of our pain.
But we can’t engage the Gospel until we can acknowledge the pain and hurt we feel. However, as humans we fall into two extremes with pain: feeling too much or ignoring it completely. But as we engage the hurt, trials and suffering we experience in life, we also experience an expansion of our hearts that is filled with a longing for Christ and a greater love for others around us.
Part two is coming soon!