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. 

28 thoughts on “The Purpose of Pain

  1. Thank you so much for this! I got a spinal fluid leak 4 months ago from a couple back surgeries and right away had to lay flat and my life style was extremely adjusted. I’m a mom of 6 children and 3 step children, but only 3 of my kids left at home. I’m one of those go, go, go moms and I love it! I’m also an assistant teacher and haven’t been able to work in 8 months because of this mess. At first I was in a rush to get this leak fixed and move on, but after time, certain procedures weren’t fixing me, and praying a lot, I listened to God and was just still. My prayer life has deepened, I’ve opened up my bible every day, that I never use to do, I ask God for guidance in everything I do now and have a deeper spiritual relationship with God. We pray a lot more as a family and have been more outspoken about my love and faith in God and all the many many blessings He has given us and the promise He has made to everyone. I have so much faith and trust in God and even though he hasn’t healed me physically, he has healed me spiritually and working on me every day until the day I die. I am able to be up some throughout the day and I thank God so much for whatever up time I do have and know He’s with me through each moment.

    1. Oh, Tami. Wowsa!! Firstly, you are brave. I can hear it in your words. There is strength rising there and even though I’m certain there are days you’ve felt (and would be entitled to) like a puddle, God has clearly given you some hard core strength. I stand in awe. Seriously. You’re a fighter!

      Second, what a sweet, sweet, sweet testimony God is writing over you. He’s not only transformed your relationship with Him but you’ve gone and led the whole family in change. That’s beautiful. I have no doubt that the beauty He’s brought out of ashes is going to encourage others. You go on and just tell everyone what Jesus has done for you!

      Thank you SO much for sharing this with me. You’ve encouraged my heart and I will be praying healing and restoration for you, friend. I pray that your “up time” increases every day. Please drop by again and let me know how you’re doing. Big HUGS!!

  2. This is good news for me today! I’m ready to get a new perspective on pain. And once this broken toe heals, I just might go for a jog! Great post, friend.

    1. Oh, friend! Broken toe??!! I’m so sorry to hear that. Well, perhaps God has something sweet for you in this season of being off your feet. Though, I pray it’s short and sweet. xoxo

  3. Yes and yes. That Deuteronomy passage is shocking at first…one of those times I have to align myself to how God reveals Himself in the Word. And yet He is always good and always loving and always merciful. So much more than our humanity can comprehend.

    1. I know exactly how you feel, Lisa. I had to remind myself that His word is true regardless of how I feel about it. Praising God for His loving tenderness over those He calls His.

  4. I have found that as much as I like to avoid pain that in the end it is the pain that God uses to grow me. That doesn’t mean that I openly embrace it as the bible suggests….but at least I am learning to see the silver lining in it all.

    1. I hear you, Deanna – I don’t think I’m at the point where I’ll fling open my doors to welcome pain, but on the tail end of it, I can see that growth too and acknowledge God’s goodness in doing what He needed to refine me. Thanks so much for joining the conversation today.

  5. So true- pain is not pleasant, but it certainly makes us stop and take notice, and if we didn’t feel pain we’d do all kinds of damage without even realising it. I’m glad that God can work it for good.

    1. Me too, Lesley – I’m glad that God chooses to bring us the hard things so that we can get to the better places. But the process – eeek – it can stink! ;) Thanks for visiting and commenting today.

  6. Hi Tiffany,
    Kudos to you for running — I find it’s a curious brand of torture and can’t fathom those who enjoy it, but I have at times jogged around my neighborhood. Yoga and walking are more my speed! Pain is a reason for us to go deeper and see what God has for us in that circumstance that we find so challenging and difficult. I can definitely agree that pain does serve a purpose . . . but running, not so much! :)

    1. Yes! I enjoy yoga, pilates, and the occasional light weight – but running – NO! And you’re so right, pain can certainly draw us into deeper dependence on God. Thanks for visiting today, Valerie.

  7. Tiffany, thanks for this. I recently downloaded the Couch to 5K app and have begun using it. I wouldn’t call myself a runner yet but I am definitely jogging/running more than I did a week ago. I made a pact with a friend so we can climb a mountain in Colorado next summer.

  8. What a great story. You made me laugh about thinking you’d die before you made it to the stop sign. (I’ve had similar thoughts.) But the spiritual analogy is so good. Makes me think of the CS Lewis quote that God shouts in our pain. There’s a reason behind every trial He allows. So hard to believe it though, when we’re experiencing pain. Thanks for your encouragement. Will definitely share this on Facebook later this week.

    1. Thanks for being here, Betsy. It can be hard to find the purpose in the pain when you’re in it, but I suppose that all the more reason to press through and get to the other side.

  9. Wow. This was exactly what I needed to hear. You wrote this better than I did. Oh and I was thinking about asking in the beginning of the post if you are going to run a 5k but lol I think I know the answer. thanks for stopping by today.

  10. I like the idea of running. In fact 2 years ago I ran a couple of 5k’s and really liked it. (Sick, I know!) But then life got busy and I stopped running. I actually need to get back to it again… ugh.
    I was encouraged by your words. I’m feeling right now I am in the midst of a re-routing and God is doing some reworking on me and I’m praying for His guidance and creative wisdom in how to accomplish what I feel He’s asking of me along with wisdom in how to manage/delegate or remove things currently on my plate. Pain has a way of motivating and the pain of being overwhelmed and too crazy busy has a way of motivating some re-routing.
    Thanks for these encouraging words. I always love reading your posts. Great words… thanks!

    1. I know exactly what that re-routing, letting go, and re-shuffling feels like. It can be hard to sift through it all, but like you, I’m leaning into God and trying to do the next thing with wisdom and discernment. Yes – the pain of overwhelm is certainly a powerful motivator to make some changes. Take care, friend – so glad you visited today.

  11. Wow Tiffany! You deliver again I am entertained, inspired, and encouraged by this post. I understand that God needed to use pain to achieve His purpose for my life. I had to chuckle while reading your jogging story. I have to have to exercise to help restore functionally to my body and maintain good health. I get excited when my pedometer reaches the thousands on any given day but i am usually feeling it that night or in the morning. I love it though…like you said…pain will keep us in motion! May we refuse to settle for comfort and trust God’s leading through painful moments that take place. Continued success in your jogging exploits and physical therapy. May there be some pain free nights for your right hip:) Have a fantastic week and may God richly bless you and yours!

    1. Well, Horace – you’ll be glad to hear that yoga is much more my pace. I’m thinking running is for the birds – or roadrunners – but not me! But yes – comfort can keep us seated even after God tells us to move. But pain – it forces us to make some serious decisions and can often be the first step to God rescuing us out of where we don’t belong. Praying for you, friend, as you take those steps – even if they are just closer to your favorite comfy chair. ;)

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