That sounds odd, doesn’t it? Making pain “pay off” seems a bit crazy when you consider that we go to great lengths every day to AVOID pain! Who “signs up” for pain, right? Not me, and I suspect not you, either.
The reality is that pain is definitely part of life on this side of the heavenly divide. And this is where making pain pay off comes into the picture. God does not want us to merely endure our suffering, he wants it to help us learn from him, comfort others, and live with full dependence on him.
But making pain pay-off is not automatic!
We need to intentionally put our pain experiences into an “inventory” system and then watch for opportunities from God to help others. I try to keep this list top of mind and ready to activate at a moment’s notice.
Just the other day I was talking with a friend who brought up how their childhood pain was still affecting them in adulthood. Instantly I shared how God had healed me from the pain of growing up with an alcoholic father and he was visibly comforted.
The wise person is the doer who puts Jesus’ teachings into practice. It is not enough to say we are Christians only in word but not in deed. The power to find peace lies in our belief in Christ, our repentance from sin, our love for one another, and our living a life that is worthy of the Master’s example. This is what theologians call sanctification or, simply, holiness.
Sharing our pain is one of the most powerful ways to put that gift of holiness into action for others.
“…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
We need to pray for God’s comforting hand in the midst of our suffering. Pray for him to grant us discernment to see our pain as an opportunity to refine our character. Pray for the strength and courage to share our painful experiences with the people he has divinely placed in our path.
All of us can make pain “pay off” by thinking of what we have endured as a window into our soul and the spine of our character. Give it a try. What specific pain have you endured that God could use to help someone else?