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Do you have pain?

Do we somehow think we can go through life without any pain at all? There are multiple forms of pain, but the worst is always going to be described as the kind that will not let up. It just comes at you, and at you, and never relents. It could be emotional pain, physical pain, or even spiritual pain. There are all forms of pain - but one thing remains consistent with all forms of pain - we don't always have a right perspective about it. Pain overshadows all we can see and think - it just clouds whatever else is around us at the moment. Get a blister on your toe and see how long you focus on your foot, shoes you will put on them, and when it will finally heal. Twist your back lifting something the wrong way and see how long you focus on how you will rise, sit, lie, and reach without getting those twinges that send shooting pains throughout your torso. We focus on the pain, what we belief will give us relief from it, and even what we can 'put on it' to mask the constant nagging. We do the same thing when it is emotional pain, focusing on the hurt we feel from some 'wrong' done to us. We cannot see beyond the pain because it is all our minds will allow us to dwell upon. Pain has a purpose in our lives. We may not see the purpose because we are so focused on the pain!

His wrath, you see, is fleeting, but His grace lasts a lifetime. The deepest pains may linger through the night, but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning. You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. (Psalm 30:5, 11)  I will gladly rejoice because of Your gracious love because You recognized the sadness of my affliction. You felt deep compassion when You saw the pains of my soul. (Psalm 31:7)

Just a couple quick questions for us this morning to help us evaluate what the purpose may be in our pain at this very moment, whatever form it may take:

- Do we believe God is the author of that pain? There are times I think we get carried away and blame God for our pain, thinking he caused it in our lives. If we lose a job, we blame him for not providing for our needs. If we have relationship woes, we blame him for not keeping the relationship free of distractions. If we wake up with a toothache, we blame him because we didn't need this pain right now in the midst of all the rest of the stuff we are having to deal with. God isn't the author of pain - he doesn't create pain in our lives. The loss of a job may be God's way of closing one door so he can allow us to walk through another. The relationship woes aren't his doing because we were the ones that got distracted - those distractions aren't even his doing! We can put so much focus on 'blaming' someone or something for our pain, but wouldn't it be better to ask God what purpose this present pain may serve in our lives instead of trying to assign blame? Maybe our pain is a wake-up call to refocus our lives - get our attention off of something we have been putting so much time and effort into at the exclusion of other things that need our focused attention.

- Do we ask God to give us clarity in the midst of pain? Pain muddles our minds, disturbs our hearts, unsettles our emotions, and creates havoc in our bodies. In all that murkiness it is easy to no longer see clearly - we don't see beyond the pain. When we ask God to give us clarity, we need to also be open to receive what he tells us. He may point out some areas where we have been less than stellar in our performance - so allow him to deal with those areas and see how much it changes our 'level of pain'. Some of us give ourselves the pain - we just keep doing stuff that brings pain. God will likely point out whatever it is that gives us that pain - just like when we focus on the shoe that rubbed our toe raw and presented us with the blister. It wasn't the shoe's fault, it was ours for not wearing socks! The clarity comes when we allow God to show us where it the 'pain points' are in our lives. Seeing where pain stems from is the beginning of wisdom in knowing how to rid ourselves of the pain. Just sayin!

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