The Purpose of Pain

A few years ago I decided to take up running.

Now, I should preface this with the fact that I despise all exercise. It is simply a necessary evil which I begrudgingly comply with for the sake of heart health and my skinny jeans. Anyhoo…

When I first began jogging through my neighborhood I was certain I would die before I reached the stop sign at the corner. That fear of death gradually decreased until within weeks I was not only cresting the hill around the corner without gasping for breath, but was completing a whole mile without having to break to walk.

Hitting that mile-mark made me feel like Wonder Woman—truly. I was a runner. Well, I was a one-mile runner because remember, I hate exercise. Nearly every day I would lace up my tennis shoes, stretch (because that’s what real runners do – duh), crank up Katy Perry’s Roar and show that mile who was boss.

While I was still able to conquer my mile, I found that moving from a seated to a standing position hurt like a dickens. This average everyday motion sent a shooting pain through my right hip enough to lay me flat.

It didn’t hurt when I ran, only when I didn’t. Go figure.

A week later, I exited my doctor’s office with a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and orders for 6-weeks of physical therapy. $100 in co-pays later, a resistance band wrapped around my knees, I lamented my age and “weak hip” to the cute, young physical therapist who no doubt cruised his own miles. He laughed and said, “This is gonna hurt. You really wanna keep running?”

“No.” I said. “No, I do not.”

Pain is a powerful motivator for change. (Tweet that.)

The Purpose of Pain {}

I’ve been unpacking that truth in my journey with Christ. As I’ve asked Him a hundred times, “why this pain?“, He’s answered me with whispers and His word about transformation, faith, and trust.

God has shown me that pain is an instrument that is not outside His reach.

“See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal…”
Deuteronomy 32:39 NIV

With all my heart I believe that God is gracious and loving and patient in measures beyond my comprehension. His love for me—for us—is so deep and wide that we can scarcely uncover the lengths He will go to guide and guard and lead.

But I also have come face to face with this—if pain is necessary, God will bring it.

Pain has a purpose. It gets our attention. Pain opens our eyes to what must be seen and addressed; to consequences that whether profitable or not, cannot be ignored. In my own life, had it not been for hurt, for confusion—for pain—I would have likely stayed in a place God no longer wanted me.

Comfort may keep us still, but pain will set us in motion.

The Purpose of Pain {}

I don’t know where these words find you today. Perhaps you are running what feels like an endless mile, or maybe you’re waylaid on the sidelines feeling wounded and damaged. I don’t know what brought you there, or what it looks like, or the degree of difficulty you are up against. But I do know that you are not alone.

God is in the healing and binding, but He is also in the pain. (Tweet that.)

Maybe it’s a coarse change, a re-routing that must be made. Perhaps it’s a season of stillness and wait that He is ushering you toward. He may even be throwing up a red flag warning of imminent danger.

Pain should not be ignored. Neither should God’s purpose. 

God has created our bodies to respond to pain, and if our hearts and minds will follow in kind, the potential for change, for transformation, is great. That process is neither simple, or easy, or…painless. The timing is rarely convenient or ideal. But when pain is an instrument in the hands of an all-knowing, sovereign, and all-together good Father, the results can be entirely beautiful.

“I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much
anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.”
Charles Spurgeon

You can also find these words linked up in some of my favorite spots: Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory)Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart)Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday), 3dlessons4life (#thoughtprovokingthursday).

In need of some real-time encouragement? Join me on Facebook and Instagram for some short and sweet conversation throughout the week.