Finding Purpose in Pain
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
It's a phrase that is thrown around, almost flippantly, in our culture. We can easily become consumed by making gains, making progress, moving forward. And in most cases, the pain associated with whatever gain we are pursuing is tolerable.
The pain of working out and not eating sweets is tolerable and worth the gain of a healthier body.
The pain of putting in extra hours in the office is tolerable and worth the gain to make that final sale.
The pain of getting the degree is tolerable and worth the gain of getting your dream job.
The pain of childbirth is tolerable and worth the gain of having a sweet baby to hold and cherish.
Yet what happens if the gain isn't gained? What happens when you don't gain the body, the extra money, the job of your dreams, the baby you wanted?
What happens if the gain isn't gained? What then, is the purpose of the pain?
That's where we find ourselves today...but it's not just the pain of childbirth without the baby. It's the pain of seeing what we thought was God's plan unfold over these last few years, to redeem and restore so much of our story and then for it to be abruptly taken away at the last moment. It's the pain of daily grieving the loss of our sweet Sophie June, picturing where she would be at with our family, within our home. It's the pain of having to hear your young children grieve the loss of their baby sister. It's the pain of having to relive the most horrific day of our life when loved ones come over with kind and compassionate ears to hear our story. It's the pain of seeing others deliver healthy babies and feeling resentful even though we would never, ever, ever want anyone to experience the pain we are going through, not in a million, billion, trillion years.
That's where we sit today...so how do we find purpose in our pain?
The Apostle Paul writes about the idea of present sufferings being a reminder for future glory in Romans 8:18-30. The hardships we face now are a reminder that this earth is not our home and we have a perfect future that awaits us in eternity. In seasons of pain where human knowledge can't comprehend a purpose, Paul writes this in verse 28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." It's a verse I have memorized, shared and preached many times before, but on days like today, I don't want to have anything to do with His purpose, I don't want to be in that category of "those who love Him."
If there is some "good" that can come out of my daughter's death...really God? I can't even wrap my mind around that thought.
Yet at the same time, our entire Christian faith is based on "good" coming out of death. Yet at the same time, God the Father got His Son Jesus back three days later, but we aren't getting Sophie back. Yet at the same time, God the Father planned this "before the foundations of the world" for humans who would want nothing to do with Him at all to be restored to Him through Jesus' death. Yet at the same time, this was God the Father's plan for His Son but I would never, ever, ever plan this as a father for my daughter. It is on days like today that there seems to be no purpose in our pain. Yet at the same time, we are fully confident in the truth of God's Word that there is purpose in pain.
So on days like today, or even in the weeks and months ahead, where we can't find any purpose in our pain, all we can cling to is knowing there is purpose even if we can't find it. In fact, we have to be ok with not finding that purpose, that good, that gain. Instead of working so hard to justify our pain and find the gain, we just have to sit in it and allow the one who is in charge of defining and revealing purpose to do His job on His timeframe.
I am trying to take my own advice, as hard as it is, but I know there are many other, "Really God?" pains that we all have to endure. And unless we feel those pains to the full, we will miss the gain, the good, the purpose on the other side. That purpose will most likely not be the purpose you thought, but someday you will see that purpose and it will be for your good and His glory.
I still don't want that today, and probably won't for awhile, but I will sit in my pain knowing His purposes are good and His gains are best.