Want some free pain management advice?
Pain. Yours or your child’s is difficult to deal with. Emotional pain can be even more debilitating than physical soreness. We’d pay anything for relief.
There’s someone who knows a thing or two about pain. Paul in the Bible experienced pain and learned how to handle it. Pretend you’re having a conversation with Paul. Here’s how the interview might go:
Do you ever feel hopeless?
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
I DO feel in despair. That’s easy for you to say that you can show God’s power. You don’t know what I’m facing.
“I have…been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Why didn’t you ever ask God to spare you from any suffering?
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
You’re saying you delight in weakness. Are you kidding? Why would you say such a thing? How can you possibly say you delight in weakness?
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I HAVE LEARNED to be content whatever the circumstances… I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11, 13
I still get so discouraged when my emotional pain is so great, or when my child’s mental illness prevents him from doing the things he used to do.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
I still don’t understand how you can have such a positive outlook when you’ve experienced so much suffering. What’s your secret?
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18
My pain is so severe that some days I don’t think I can endure life any more. I don’t think I could focus on anything other than my pain. I’m not like you.
Others had tough times. Job lost his business and children all in one day he “got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” Job 1:20-21
I still need help to think of God’s power instead of my suffering.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
It helps to remember that Jesus suffered worse pain for me. Many people don’t know how much pain I secretly endure. But, He understands my suffering. I’m comforted knowing He will perfect my faith. He knows I need greater faith. He’ll help me keep my focus on Him. Is that right?
What would you like to ask Paul?
Steve Green sings about that great cloud of witnesses in his song: “Find Us Faithful.”