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God equips us with pain

As a younger man, I was fired twice and three times demoted. In my view, I’d performed well and was the victim of office politics. I stored up a lot of angst and pain in the wake of those ego blows.   Only later in life did I understand them for the gifts that they were.   Later …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
As a younger man, I was fired twice and three times demoted. In my view, I’d performed well and was the victim of office politics. I stored up a lot of angst and pain in the wake of those ego blows.
 
Only later in life did I understand them for the gifts that they were.
 
Later I came to see that if you’re going to look like Jesus and share his ministry of setting the captives free, then you need to be equipped as he was. I learned that the one piece of equipping that seems hardest to receive is pain. But I’ve seen that it is also a gift that will turn you into a formidable foe.
Why is that? It seems paradoxical that God would give us affliction to conquer affliction. But that’s the way it works.
Think about all the prisons of pain that people are locked in. The prison of bitterness or depression, for example. They trap us because of some loss or betrayal. As if the original pain wasn’t enough, we have to daily do battle with a litany of lies that fill our minds:
“I could have prevented it.”
“I can never forgive him.”
“I’ll never be happy again.”
Every day we wake up and live as captives of these swirling thoughts. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
 
We were meant to live free. Our spirits know that. In spite of all the countervailing evidence, no one has to tell us that we were meant for freedom. The founding fathers called it an “inalienable right.” The pilgrims risked all in its pursuit. The movie Braveheart resonates because of the way William Wallace gave his life for freedom.
 
Only someone who understands the lies that hold us captive can set us free. It helps to understand the nature of the jail cell if you’re going to attempt a jail break. Most of us who feel trapped by something that may be a lie won’t let anyone near it. We tend to lash out at those trying to point out a lie that we’ve believed.
 
But someone who can identify with our pain and has walked a mile in our shoes may be able to get close enough to help us get free. Someone who has felt the pain of betrayal, for example, may be able to show us that it is possible to forgive. A person who has lost a loved one to cancer can comfort someone who is struggling with their own loss.
 
We don’t want to be equipped with pain, but it is what we need to help others walk in freedom.
 
Do you have pain in your life? Consider it from God’s perspective. Perhaps you’ve recoiled and assumed the posture of a victim. But maybe that pain is actually gift. What if it was God giving you what you need to help set others free?

Comments (6)

  • Thanks for this good and true word!

    One of my favorite books is a missionary biography, “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Deibler Rose. She was in a Japanese prison camp throughout WW2 and in solitary confinement for part of that. A quote from that book has been burned into my heart. She told about a native man who was tortured on a regular basis, and she said of him, “He suffered great pain, but he was one of those who God could trust with pain.”

    That’s challenged me nearly every day since to try to be “one of those who God could trust with pain.”

  • Elizabeth – so glad to see your comment. I just realized, you are the one who first gave me this concept years ago. I heard you say it and it lodged in my spirit so firmly that it’s been a constant theme in our ministry ever since. Who knows how many thousands you may have impacted by impacting me.

    Thank you!

  • Thanks Seth. There are many days I pray and ask God not to “trust” me so much. I love you friend and have known your journey. In TN as I send this.

  • Just want to share my guiding thoughts that I qouted from a Priest ‘Most of God’s wonderful gifts come wrapped in pain” by: Fr. James Reuter, S.J.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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