Pain is inevitable. It comes in many different forms and almost always at the worst times. It can be quick and sharp or dull and lingering. Whatever the pain may be, we all have to face it sooner or later. Every painful experience leaves us with a choice about how to handle it. We either let it be a catalyst for growth or a black hole that drains us.
I made the decision to go back to college to get my master’s degree and not even a month in, my grandma got diagnosed with colon cancer. The weeks I spent besides her hospital bed I did not even think about school. But after she passed I let myself stay stuck in my hurt. I gave up on school, slipped in and out of depression and caused chaos to those around me. But conviction kept rising in me and I decided I could not let the cycle of pain continue.
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I emailed my professor to apologize for my absence and to briefly explain my situation, not expecting anything but wanting to give myself a new start. And to my incredible surprise and joy, I got granted an extension and I’ll be able to get my degree over the summer! Now if I had stayed stuck in my hurt, I would not have been given that second chance. I would’ve continued to waste my pain and wrap myself in a cozy but smothering blanket of self-pity. Instead, I took responsibility for my own actions and the consequences they led to.
“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”
― C.S. Lewis
What I’ve learned through heartbreaks, disappointments, shattered dreams, sleepless nights,… is that there’s always one constant: God! He knows all about the past hurts we have endured, the current struggles we face and the problems and hurdles yet to come. And He was, is, and will be there throughout it all but only if we let Him in. We must allow God to piece together our brokenness to make us whole again and bring us closer to Him.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV) says: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
He is a God of all comfort! No matter what situation we find ourselves in or how unbearable the pain may seem, comfort can be found in God. But Paul doesn’t just praise God for His comfort; he also indicates that there is a greater purpose: “to comfort those who are in any affliction”. The painful experiences God lets us endure are not just for our own sanctification but also to prepare us to comfort others through theirs. But how can we comfort others if we stay stuck in our hurt? Stop using pain as an excuse for disobedience! It’s okay to mourn, to reflect, to process,… things but it’s not okay to put them before God. It’s okay to feel down but it’s not okay to stay down and shut God out. It’s okay to soak up His comfort but it’s not okay to ignore His calling.
What have you been through that left you bitter or angry with God? How have you ignored Him while hiding in your pain? What painful experiences have you wasted or allowed to stain you?