How To Respond To Pain

In his book Big God, Orlando Saer has a section about how to respond to pain, which I’ve shared below.

BigGod

“God knows exactly what he’s doing by allowing suffering in the world.” – Saer

I’ve bolded part of number four because it stood out to me the first time I read this.

How To Respond To Pain

1. Speak to God openly about your suffering. You may find the Psalms useful to articulate some of the things you feel. He is your heavenly Father and loves to hear the voice of his children. ‘Hear my cry, O Lord; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint. . .’ (Ps. 61:1-2, NIV). Say how you feel, and ask for deliverance by all means, but pray too that he would accomplish his purposes through your pain.

2. Ask God to give you the stamina and patience you need to bear your suffering well. He promised the apostle Paul, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Cor. 12:9). Claim that promise for yourself.

3. Invite others to help you in your pain. They may not know the right thing to say, but recognise their good intentions. They may offer to help practically; accept their help with grace. This is what families do. ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ’ (Gal. 6:2, NIV).

4. Give thanks for what God will achieve in you through this pain you are experiencing – both the things you know about (e.g. refining your faith ‘so that it may be proved genuine’. 1 Pet. 1:7, NIV) and the things you don’t. Everyone experiences suffering, to a degree. The believer, though, has the comfort that it is not meaningless; it is accomplishing God’s purposes.

5. Don’t give in to fear. God is your loving heavenly Father who is totally committed to finishing the good work he has begun in you. Nothing can take away your eternal security. He cares. ‘Indeed the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows’ (Luke 12:7, NIV).

6. Focus your dependence on God, and so consciously draw the benefit from your pain. Acknowledge that God has allowed you to go through this out of his love for you (not his displeasure), because he wants to deepen your dependence on him as opposed to the comforts you have lost. ‘This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead’ (2 Cor. 1:9, NIV).

7. If your suffering has been caused by a person, or people, guard your heart against feelings of hatred or revenge. ‘Bless those who persecute you. . . do not repay evil with evil. . . overcome evil with good’ (Rom. 12:14-21, NIV).

8. Don’t distance yourself from God’s word. You need to be listening to your heavenly Father now more than ever. In fact in your suffering, you will see things in his word you have never seen before (‘Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path’, Ps. 119:105, NIV).

9. Keep sharing your life with others. You may instinctively be tempted to turn inwards, but remember: at this point of obvious weakness, your life and words may have more power to commend the gospel to unbelievers, or to encourage believers, than at any other time of your life. Remember Paul’s experience: ‘what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. . . Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly’ (Phil. 1:12-14, NIV).

10. Look forward. Whatever this life holds, ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade’ is being ‘kept in heaven for you’; what’s more, you yourself are being spiritually preserved, ‘shielded by God’s power’, for it (1 Pet. 1:4-5, NIV).

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