For me, I have seen the other side of pain and, even though it took years to arrive at this destination, I have clearly seen the fruits and rewards that have come from times of pain.
The biggest and most obvious one manifested in my life is Friendship. There are several key people whom I would have never met or developed a relationship with if it hadn’t been for pain and suffering of some sort. One of my most precious and oldest friendships was first formed because I saw her crying on the playground of our elementary school and was prompted to reach out to her. Come to find out, she was going through a hard time at home and was so tender-hearted it was consuming her thoughts at school as well. She has been a key player for me in this thing called life since that painful moment in her life over forty years ago. We still talk, text, and comment on one another’s social media accounts frequently and we love one another dearly to this day. The second heart friendship in my life was caused because of the pain and hard choices of an unexpected pregnancy. You see, my friend’s biological mother was young and unexpectedly pregnant and, thanks be to God, elected to give my heart friend up for adoption. This gift of a wonderful life wrought through the painful decisions of a young girl eventually became my “pot-luck” (meaning you had no choice in roommates back in the day!) roommate at Texas A&M University. The pain caused in her situation created an opportunity for my roommate to be adopted by a wonderful, loving family who provided for her in wonderful ways throughout her life. She was blessed with the best family ever and I am grateful that I, too, benefitted from the initial painful choice of a young mother I will never meet. Several other golden, life-changing friendships were formed during the “pain” and struggle of raising young children. I say that lightly because it isn’t a true pain. It is a season of hardship, selflessness, and soul-searching to find yourself in the midst of shaping the lives of other people. There are days that blend together, days you want to forget, and days of extreme happiness and joy mixed together during those years, but the bonds of true friendship are definitely made stronger through the struggle. Most recently, I have stumbled across (by God’s loving hand, no less) a group of like-minded, amazing, young women who share my thoughts, dreams, struggles, and desire to pursue God in our daily lives. We are helping to refine one another in glorious ways and I am thankful that the struggle of life brought us together. At first, I resisted the idea of a group, but God has made it clear that I needed it. He is refining my thought life and ability to lead others through their own struggles by giving me some struggles of my own to grapple with in the midst of our journey together.
Without these struggles and without the pain of suffering through difficult seasons, we could all end up walking through life alone. We wouldn’t need one another to support, encourage, praise, and uplift one another. In fact, I venture to say that, in a world of zero pain and suffering, we wouldn’t form the relationships in this life that not only help us navigate the pain and suffering, but also keep it fun, exciting, and joyful. The difficulties cause growth and change in people that eventually leads to beauty and hope that would not have been created without the pain.
In my own life, I look at the moments that have been the most glorious and rewarding and, oddly enough, they were superseded by some hardship I had experienced in which I thought I would drown. I remember the feelings of hopelessness, depression, and pain that ushered in new friendships, beauty, creativity, and desire for change in my life. It was after those difficult seasons that I began dreaming about opening my own antique shop, writing a blog, starting an exciting new hobby, forming a Bunko group, and starting a Bible study group. Those hard seasons ushered in seasons of creative thought, renewed hope, and amazing friendships. None of those things would have happened without the pain that preceded them.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
By no means am I suggesting that the pain you are experiencing isn’t excruciating at the moment or that you should just immediately accept it and have a joyful attitude concerning whatever the current circumstances are that you are struggling to accept. At times, it took years for me to realize that the suffering I was experiencing produced beautiful fruit in my own life or the lives of my children. I begged God, at times, to remove the pain from our situation and allow us to see happiness again and slowly, ever so slowly, He showed me that He could bring happiness into the deepest places of our hearts once again.
I learned to pray for specific, tiny things and I began to see specific, miraculous answers. I learned to listen intently to God’s still, small voice and move forward in tiny steps only when He told me to move forward. It is so hard for me to be patient because my brain is always churning for solutions to pain and problems. Many times, He uses the people in my life to help me clearly see areas in which I need to fully trust Him. Unfortunately, I tend to save some things to try to handle myself without His help. It takes other people to remind me to give it ALL to him. After we give it all to Him, we need to pray for wisdom. Listen for answers. Trust Him with your pain. It is okay to be mad at Him. He can handle it. Just ask Him to help you get over the anger and find ways to move forward in a healthy manner.
When you are struggling with pain, try to place your trust in God…..even though it is excruciatingly difficult at times. I get that. Trust me. The reason I can say that is because I have been there. I have struggled. I have lost sleep. I have cried incessantly. I have begged God to stop the pain. When the pain finally ceased to be a part of my everyday life and began fading into distant memory is when the beauty and peace were unveiled to me.
Beauty and peace like no other.
John 14:27 (NIV)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”