Monday, February 18, 2019

Sanctified Pain

Daily Gratitude Year 7 - Day 49: Today, I am grateful for sanctified pain.

What in the world is that? One of the biggest struggles many people have before coming to Christ is what to do with pain? How can this great, big, omnipotent loving God allow us such deep sorrows, wounds and pain? 

That is not something one could even begin to address in a simple gratitude devotional. Still, this quote struck me like a lightning bolt. Verses started connecting like a dot-to-dot puzzle, giving a clearer image. 

Remember, childlike faith and understanding is enough. We can savor His Word with a burning desire to know more, but in the end, it is the faith and understanding of a child that most pleases our Lord. Look at this quote:

"Pain, if sanctified, creates tenderness toward others." - C.H. Spurgeon

Wow. Read that again. 

I grew up with the word sanctified. For some it might be unfamiliar. It is the idea of making something holy by setting setting it apart for a holy purpose. What are the possibilities when a human intentionally chooses to live life with a holy purpose?

Each one of us is unique in our faith story. As we fall more in love with Jesus and the Word of God, the Holy Spirit's whispers and urgings become more clear. How we live and love changes. How we deal with pain changes, too. Our purpose for getting up in the morning becomes more in tune with His purpose. 

None of us is perfect. We are not sinless, but as my dear friend, Todd, articulated yesterday, "It isn't that we do not sin; we don't practice sin." 

Does that make sense? I don't practice law. I live under the laws of the land. I don't practice sin.  I fall into sin when the "me" becomes more important than the "we" in my daily living choices. The "we" of "God and me" and the "we" of living in relationship with others. He doesn't want us to practice sin. He longs for us to practice love, until practice makes perfect. 

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” "-Mark 12:30-31

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." -1 John 4:18

Loving Him like crazy means loving my neighbors, too. Loving my neighbors means sharing their pain and sorrow. Offering our time to sit with the sick or hurting... and to love those that seem unlovable is an offering to our God. We don't have to be wealthy, healthy or even brilliant. If we are truly in Christ, His love is in us. Loving people is a moment by moment decision... but with practice, it becomes more second nature. 

We need to be "all in", not just dipping our toes in the waters of His love. He wants to light a fire inside our hearts that drives us to seek out ways to be His hands and feet... salt and light. Again, two of my favorite verses, but this time, they really connect. 

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." -Romans 12:1

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." -Romans 12:15

When we experience pain, we learn so much. I don't believe God sends it, but he does allow it. In our pain, we find ourselves actively seeking His face, His grace and His way. At least, for me this is true. Why do my listening skills seem to improve in the trials? It is often in the struggles that we experience the comfort of learning to "Be still and know". 

I have been reading the book of Job. Pain isn't any fun, but we find an intimacy with God in the place of brokenness that many struggle to find when life is comfortable. Trials and troubles are present in this fallen world. The hard things we experience equip us to be present with those who weep. 

Job's friends were a great comfort during  the seven days they wept and grieved with him and didn't say a word. When they began talking... they were no longer helpful. In fact, they magnified his pain. I need to remember that little lesson. Be present. Be sensitive. Be kind. Be quiet. 

In our own seasons of sorrow and pain, we learn to lean into His love and the Word. We can find purpose beyond the trials. In time, the oyster turns the painful grain of sand into a pear. Time and pressure result in a diamond. He didn't promise it would be easy, but he did promise that he would be with us... always... until the end of the age. 

Today, I am grateful for sanctified pain.

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