Where You Can Come for Prayer and Care

Pain

by Dick Innes

Pain, Part I: The Tsunami Effect

“And I [John] heard a loud voice from the throne [heaven] saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”1

Daily the news media continues to report more and more tragedies such as earthquakes (think of the recent Japanese massive earthquake and the warning of tsunamis that could affect 50 countries; devastating fires; floods; despicable acts of terrorism; child abuse; the murder and rape of Christians by religious fanatics who despise Christianity.

Over and over we hear tragic stories about thousands of families being torn apart—grieving children losing parents; heartbroken parents losing children; homes totally destroyed; and despicable evil including criminals kidnapping orphaned children for their loathsome sex trade business.

Where is God at times like this? If we say God has nothing to do with these events, we will be seen as people who believe in a sadistic God who doesn’t care. If we say that God causes or even allows such tragedies, again we will be criticized as believing in a God who doesn’t care.

The fact is that God created mankind with a free will to choose whichever way he wanted to go. Tragically man chose to disregard God and go his own sinful way. Subsequently, we now live in a world that has been broken by sin and that by sinful mankind. Thus a more realistic question to ask is not, “Where is God,” but “Where is man?” When mankind sinned, he left and separated us from God and in so doing divorced mankind from God’s protection. When we leave God and go our own way (believing that we know better than God), we suffer the natural consequences. This happens at an individual level, a national level, and a world-wide level.

For just one example, the more that God’s Word and Christian beliefs have been attacked and abandoned in the U.S.A., the greater has been the moral decline and the increase of national problems. This, too, has happened and will continue to happen worldwide as long as we are living in a world that is plagued by evil. In fact, according to God’s Word, tragedies will continue and intensify until Jesus Christ returns and rules and reigns on earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.1

However, because of God’s love he has made a way of escape by giving his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and offer us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life to be with him forever where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”1 But this is not going to happen until Jesus returns to earth as he promised he would.2

The good news is that Jesus is coming again and will clean up the mess this world is in and in time will create a new heaven and a new earth. The critical issue for every individual is, “Are you ready for Jesus Christ’s return?” While we may never fully understand the circumstances of life until Christ returns, whatever you do be sure to accept God’s forgiveness and his invitation to eternal life. For help to do this click on: http://www.actsweb.org/invitation.php.

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, thank you that you have made a way of deliverance from this world of evil and evil’s consequences by giving your Son, Jesus, to die for my sins and making forgiveness and eternal life to be with you and your protection forever. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

1. Revelation 21:3-5 (NIV).
2. John 14:1-3.

Pain, Part II: The Great Motivator

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”1

Yesterday we noted that all pain is caused by the fact that we live in a broken, sinful world and pain will not be a thing of the past until the Lord Jesus returns and ends all pain for his true followers. In the meantime how do we live with personal pain?

Not so long ago a friend was in our home. She recently learned that she has cancer; she is only in her mid 30s. The same week we learned than one of the pastoral staff from our church just discovered that she, too, had cancer. And in fact, earlier this year we found out that Joy, my wife, had breast cancer and needed a mastectomy. So many Daily Encounter readers write and share their heart-breaking situations. The big question most of us ask at times such as these is, “Where is God when it hurts?”

I don’t want to sound over-simplistic, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but for one thing pain is nature’s way of letting us know that something is wrong and needs attention. It is a self-protective device. When a bone breaks, it hurts, If it didn’t hurt, chances are we wouldn’t take proper care of it and it wouldn’t heal properly.

Without pain, life would be extremely hazardous. For instance, the first symptom of high cholesterol, which of itself causes no pain, can be sudden death by a heart attack. One of the dangers of leprosy is the loss of feeling and pain. A person with this disease hurts his foot, but because he feels no pain, he has nothing to remind him to protect his wounded limb. He hurts it again. And again. Still there’s no pain. Eventually he loses his foot.

Thank God for this kind of pain. It’s an impelling force to motivate us to take proper care of ourselves when we are hurting. It is also one of the most effective motivators (and perhaps the only motivator) to cause us to look at ourselves and deal with our personal problems, resolve our past, and grow in maturity. One of the worst things we can do with our pain is to ignore or deny it, and run from it. We need to accept and invest it; first in our own growth and maturity and then in supporting others who are going through the same or similar experiences.2

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to understand the purpose of pain in my life and realize that you want to use it to help me grow and become a better person while Satan wants to use it to discourage me and make me bitter. Help me to choose the higher road and therein become a healthier and more mature person as well as an encourager of others who are experiencing pain. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

1. James 1:2-4 (NLT).
2. Adapted from How to Mend a Broken Heart, by Dick Innes. Available from www.actscom.com/store/

Pain, Part III: The Enricher of Life

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”1

There’s something else invaluable about pain. It can make you more sensitive, more compassionate, more understanding, and more creative.

Beethoven, for instance, composed one of his greatest oratorios after he became deaf. John Milton wrote one of his greatest poems after he became blind. Walter Scott wrote “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” after he was kicked by a horse and confined to his house for many days.

Those who have given the world the most are often those who have suffered the most. This is because those who have suffered the most tend to understand life and people the most.

One of my favorite stories is told about Renoir, the famous French painter. Apparently, when he was older, he suffered greatly from arthritis, but he kept painting anyhow. On one occasion his friend, Matisse, said to him, “Renoir, why do you keep painting when you are in so much pain?”

Renoir simply replied, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

When it comes to your pain, if you invest it wisely by using it to help yourself grow and reach out to nurture other hurting people, your pain, too, will pass, but the beauty of what you have done will remain forever.

Remember, it’s one thing to hurt. It’s another thing to allow your pain to hurt you. Accept your hurt as an opportunity to heal, to grow, and to become a more understanding, sensitive, compassionate, real, and creative person. It has been costly. Don’t waste it. Invest it wisely in your own growth and in the enrichment of other people’s lives as well.2

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, when pain comes into my life please help me to hear what you are ‘saying to me’ and what you want me to learn through it. Help me to not waste it but invest it wisely in my own growth and therein become a more understanding, sensitive, compassionate, real and creative person. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

1. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT).
2. Adapted from How to Mend a Broken Heart, by Dick Innes. Available from www.actscom.com/store/