Finding Purpose Behind Pain

I had a conversation recently that I’ve had too many times before as I was walking with someone through the valley of pain and suffering. There was a loss, a catastrophic loss beyond human ability to fully comprehend or understand. This person was a believer, but couldn’t compute why God would allow something like this to happen.

5.13.15

This person had every right to be mad, every right to hold a grudge, and they had done that for years. But now they were ready to move on. They were tired of holding onto the anger. They were tired of being bitter. They wanted to become better.

As I told this person, we will never fully know why God allows the things to happen that we’ve had to walk through in life this side of heaven. But what God loves to do is redeem our pain and suffering by weaving it into a beautiful tapestry that can bring healing and hope to countless others. That’s when we can begin to find purpose behind our pain.

This person shared how this had happened on occasion before. Encountering an acquaintance who had recently walked through a similarly devastating loss, this person wrote a heartfelt letter of encouragement and Scripture. This person was uniquely qualified to write such a letter because they had been where this acquaintance was walking. A year later they saw each other again, and the acquaintance took out the letter, crumpled, worn down and rubbed through in some spots, from being read and held and cried over every day.

One believer marked by pain was able to become beacon of hope to someone else in need. That’s when we begin to find purpose behind our pain. I told this person that as they embraced this role and asked God to continue to send them people to lift up and encourage, they would begin to find a redemption behind the pain they’ve had to walk through.

There is a purpose behind your pain. Find it. God can bring hope and healing out of the depths of the greatest suffering. Decide to stop being bitter and start getting better.

The Most Powerful Force in the World

Front-Porch-Gosepel_TITLEA new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

If you needed a reminder that love truly is the most powerful force in the world, watch Lawanda’s baptism story. What made the difference in her life? The love of God and the love of Christians surrounding her.

If God Could Use Them, He Can Use You

6.26.13What do Moses, David, and Paul all have in common? These names represent some of the best men written about in the Bible. God spoke to Moses face to face (Num. 12:8). The Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Paul was privileged with writing almost half of the New Testament.

When you look at their accomplishments, their heroics are almost mythical: Moses called down the plagues on Egypt and parted the Red Sea; David killed the giant Goliath and led Israel to her glory years; Paul was a prolific church planter and had more impact on the church than anyone else in history. We look at them, and it’s easy to see them as idealized, untouchable characters with whitewashed pasts.

Yet here’s what Moses, David and Paul have in common: they were all murderers. Moses killed an Egyptian in anger (Ex. 2:12), David killed Uriah the Hittite because he got Uriah’s wife pregnant (2 Sam. 11:15). Paul was present at the murder of Stephen and was responsible for many other deaths before his own conversion (Acts 8:1).

The application is simple: if God could use them, he can use you. No past is too checkered for him. What makes God great is inexhaustible grace and ability to take even the worst of circumstances and redeem them for his glory. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you’ve made. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been divorced. It doesn’t matter how many addictions controlled you. If God can use murderers to be some of the greatest men in the Bible, then he can use you.

I believe this enough that I shared it with a group of ladies a few days ago who are overcoming alcohol and drug addiction. One young lady is trying to overcome an IV meth addiction with an extremely low statistical probability of recovery. I shared it with a young lady of 25 who’s been in rehab seven different times. Even them, not too far gone. My God is big enough and strong enough and loving enough to use even them. If God can use these ladies, he can use you.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

If God Could Use Them, He Can Use You

6.26.13What do Moses, David, and Paul all have in common? These names represent some of the best men written about in the Bible. God spoke to Moses face to face (Num. 12:8). The Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Paul was privileged with writing almost half of the New Testament.

When you look at their accomplishments, their heroics are almost mythical: Moses called down the plagues on Egypt and parted the Red Sea; David killed the giant Goliath and led Israel to her glory years; Paul was a prolific church planter and had more impact on the church than anyone else in history. We look at them, and it’s easy to see them as idealized, untouchable characters with whitewashed pasts.

Yet here’s what Moses, David and Paul have in common: they were all murderers. Moses killed an Egyptian in anger (Ex. 2:12), David killed Uriah the Hittite because he got Uriah’s wife pregnant (2 Sam. 11:15). Paul was present at the murder of Stephen and was responsible for many other deaths before his own conversion (Acts 8:1).

The application is simple: if God could use them, he can use you. No past is too checkered for him. What makes God great is inexhaustible grace and ability to take even the worst of circumstances and redeem them for his glory. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you’ve made. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been divorced. It doesn’t matter how many addictions controlled you. If God can use murderers to be some of the greatest men in the Bible, then he can use you.

I believe this enough that I shared it with a group of ladies a few days ago who are overcoming alcohol and drug addiction. One young lady is trying to overcome an IV meth addiction with an extremely low statistical probability of recovery. I shared it with a young lady of 25 who’s been in rehab seven different times. Even them, not too far gone. My God is big enough and strong enough and loving enough to use even them. If God can use these ladies, he can use you.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Why Jerry Springer Would Love the Old Testament

1.28.13Growing up, the Jerry Springer Show set the standard for low-brow talk shows. Every week, it seemed like he would set up shop in a trailer park and just have at it. Do that many people not know who their ‘baby daddy’s’ are or that their boyfriends are having an affair with their sister? The few times I watched the show, I shook my head and wondered, “Where do these people come from?”

Here’s what I love about the Old Testament: it’s the story of God using a broken and flawed people to do His work, many of whom would have been great candidates for the Jerry Springer Show. Consider some of the ‘heroes’ of the Old Testament:

  • A guy who threw his wife under the bus and pretended to only be her brother every time they moved somewhere new (Abraham).
  • A guy who got completely drunk and passed out naked in front of his kids (Noah).
  • A guy who’s wife turned into a pillar of salt and whose daughters got him drunk so that he would impregnate them (Lot).
  • A guy who thought the best way to take care of a problem was by killing someone (Moses).
  • A guy who mistook his daughter-in-law for a prostitute and slept with her, getting her pregnant (Judah).
  • A guy with serious anger issues who would let foxes run loose in grain fields and rip the gates off of city walls (Samson).
  • A guy who lusted after another man’s wife, slept with her, then killed the husband (David).

These are the heroes of the Old Testament, and they’re all deeply flawed characters. If God can use them, God can use you. Never count yourself out.