Recently my daughter, Carly, asked if I was upset with God. I told her I wasn’t. She said that she was. She doesn’t think it’s fair that I suffer, especially in light of my service to the Lord. I assured Carly that God is using my pain for good, that he is growing me, building my faith, deepening my prayer life and teaching me to have compassion for others who struggle with similar issues. I truly believe this and it’s important that others know it as well, particularly my children. I desire that God would use my sufferings in their lives and in the lives of all my loved ones. I have come to realize that even pain can become a mighty instrument in the hands of God. So I’ve given Him mine. There are rules when you surrender your pain to God. Below are the shalt nots.
What these rules suggest is that for the Lord to use our pain we must repent of all negative thought, speech and behavior. A positive and upbeat attitude is absolutely essential. We must also maintain a hopeful outlook. Furthermore, God uses pain in unimaginable ways when we praise Him in the midst of it.
Fellow sufferer, we have a unique opportunity before us. Nothing testifies to the reality of God like faith in the pressure-cooker of life. The world does not look in wonder upon those who cruise “easy street.” Nor do they see much evidence of an Almighty presence there. The road marked with suffering is where the footsteps of the Father are best traced. If, by chance, you travel this road, please be mindful of the many “looky loos” watching on. One day these curious rubberneckers may venture from the curbside and join us. They, too, will journey the road marked with suffering. And they will need the same hope that gets us through. They will need to walk with the One we walk with. Allow them to see Him in your life. Show these curious ones that you are trusting God from start to finish. Should you be serious about this endeavor, you’ll need a few more rules under your belt. Below are the thou shalts:
Don’t ever lose hope, precious one. Never give up on the Lord. He loves you and He will be faithful to strengthen you. He will use you in unimaginable ways to inspire the many looky-loos in your life. Remember, they are constantly watching. Don’t lose them. Lead the way. And never forget the rules!
In closing, I’d like to share a letter Carly wrote not long ago. I trust you will find her words encouraging. I sure did. She has stood in the shadows of the “looky-loos.” When it comes to suffering, she has walked in my shoes as well.
I think about and pray constantly for your physical pain. I try endlessly to come to terms with the fact that you do not deserve it, yet God allows it. I also consider my constant struggle with anxiety, but mostly my obsessive thinking that is, in its own right, quite painful. I mourn for you and the physical and emotional pain you must go through each day, yet I am also able to empathize on a small scale how lonely your inner turmoil might be – because how can you explain something you do not understand yourself? And no one can feel physically the agonizing pain you must feel courageously every day. Your inner struggles are what I cling to – they are my testimony that God is real, God is good, God is faithful. Your strength, faith and endurance are a testament of God’s love, mercy and grace. Not only does your immense pain not debilitate you, but also you thrive! God has not only blessed you in your loyalty, but He has blessed your family, church and the hundreds of broken people you are able to comfort! Because you suffer, you know how to minister to a flock in pain. Thank you for taking such good care of everyone God has ever placed under you, even me. I love you so much and I am always so proud of you.
You are my sunshine,
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“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
Excerpt from the book “Pain in the Offering” by Terry Michaels
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660