Sunday, November 18, 2007

Turn Pain into Gain

For many people , Life is a pain . Believe it or not, that can be a very good thing. Before I explain that statement, let’s note some kinds of pain and how people deal with it. You may have physical, mental, emotional, or psychological pain /hurt in your life. Your pain may ebb and flow like tides on a beach. Someone wrote to me saying: “Pastor Brown: I am a member of the sandwich generation. Sometimes, it feels like a submarine sandwich—so full of stuff that I feel like I am sinking—straight to the bottom……I am overwhelmed in my life.” Can you identify with this person? How are you responding to pain in your life?

In response, Many people try to kill the pain or cover it up. Some will fill up on legal drugs and medicines. Others will try illegal drugs and go the escape route. Excessive drinking, partying, sports, and all kinds of entertainment are used by others. Pervasive use of a wide variety of communication devices permit an epidemic of pornography use in one attempt that some use to cover or ignore pain of all kinds. The result is greater damage to the user and his /her negative influence on others. In an interview quoted in The GLOBE AND MAIL newspaper, May22, 2004, Hugh Hefner admitted that his Playboy entertainment empire evolved from the pain of “rejection and repression”…in his childhood.

But, what can you do in response to your “pain”? Let me encourage you so that you can encourage others. Pain or trial provides us with a great opportunity. In the Bible, God addresses early disciples of Jesus: “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything!” (James 1:2-4,NLT) Joy is a rock solid trust and dependence on God as you depend on Him for all things so that He might make you more Christ-like in your character. As you experience pain, release it continually back to God so that He can turn your pain into gain! Prior to becoming king of Israel, David wrote: “In my [pain] I cried out to my God(Psalm 18:6)”. When you focus on God instead of the pain, it becomes an opportunity for you to grow into a spiritual champion for God. Joseph was a man who grew and accomplished enormous things through much pain because He focused on God .He also deeply believed that God was constantly at work accomplishing a greater work not only in him but in a whole nation.(Genesis 50:20)

Clarence suffered the pain of a heart attack. He could have been angry with God or become depressed. But, Clarence survived that attack by the mercy of God. In response, He determined to give others a “second chance. He took leave from his work, raised a great deal of money in various Newfoundland communities so that two orphanages, schools, and a home for married students in a Bible college could be built in Zambia, Africa. The school was called the “Newfoundland Agape School”. Of course, “Agape” refers to God’s supreme love for us as expressed the death and resurrection of Jesus. Clarence’s pain was turned into enormous gain for hundreds of poor people and students . What can God do with your pain? If you release your pain by faith over to the Lord Jesus Christ, He can use you to comfort, encourage, and minister to others in ways beyond your imagination! (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) What an awesome prospect!

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