Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.- Paul, an apostle of Christ
We look at pain as a bad thing, something that is always to be avoided and best if we just escape it altogether. But if we didn't experience the pain, we would never grow at all. In our society, we have many ways to escape the pain. It is getting lost in hours of screen time, diverting our attention from reality for hours upon hours. Entertainment of any kind steels us away for a moment only so we don't have to deal with the pain in our lives. What is it about pain that we think the only thing it is going to do is destroy us. What if we saw pain as the opportunity to grow and become stronger. What if instead of running from it we embraced it and let it make us the people God has planned us to be. Better yet, what if we realized, as children of God, our pain is not about us, but about others.
I would never learn if not from pain. If I didn't, for the first time, touch the hot stove when my mother told me not to, I would not have learned that there is a reason to not touch the stove. I would have just assumed my mom was trying to hold out on me. I would perhaps never learn that my mom actually loved me if I had just assumed she had no reason to keep me from touching the stove. I know that sounds ridiculous, but in a way, you know I'm right.
If I had not experienced the pain that comes as a consequence of sinning against God, the same thing would be true. Had I not went down the path of sin I would have assumed God was just holding out on me, he was not. It is funny how certain people warn us of the pain these paths cause, but we still take them anyways, even to the point of self-destructing. But, if not for the pain, my trust in God would be shallow, with no real reason to trust him. I would have kept going that route. This does not justify sinning by no means, but it has built my trust as to why God says " Don't take that path."
Standing on the other side of one of the biggest periods of pain in my life, I see why I had to go through it, even though it didn't make sense during that time. The pain made me who I am today. It wasn't until I finally trusted God that the pain began to mean something. But I couldn't have begun to trust him if not for the fact that I saw him move in spite of the pain. The pain drew me to him, to find rest in him. Despite our desperate attempts to escape pain, pain is not bad, it is an opportunity to grow.
I look at the words that Paul uses when he describes his suffering, it serves a purpose. It is in our lives, as Christians, to point others to Jesus as the hope to all who find him. So that we can comfort those in need. In this way, we are fulfilled by the teaching of Jesus as he tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Have we thought of it that way? We want to receive comfort and relief and yet Jesus and the apostles show us that it is more blessed to give our lives as a sacrifice, to benefit others instead of ourselves. To give up the right to feel at ease so that we can benefit those around us. That may sound horrible, and it did to Jesus when he was in the Garden praying to "let this cup pass." But he knew that the path he was on would benefit so many people who would be saved through his suffering. Pain not only grows us, but it serves to help others.
As Christians, this is what our life is about. My life is no longer mine. This is why Jesus says to pick up our cross. The cross is often used as something glamorous, and in a way it is, but so much pain happened on the cross. And Jesus is telling us to pick up our cross, our suffering, and pain, to fallow him. The answer to pain is not to escape, but to draw near to God and realize he has a bigger plan than simply comforting us all the time. He wants us to let go and give our lives to him. The pain is necessary, you can fight it, try to escape it or embrace it and trust God has you, even when it doesn't make sense to do so. We, as Christians, must be willing to pour our lives out as a drink offering. To let God have what isn't ours, our lives.