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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - How God Can Use Pain for My Good

Rick Warren - How God Can Use Pain for My Good

Rick Warren - How God Can Use Pain for My Good

Hello, everybody. I want to begin first by saying personally how grateful I am for each of you, how much I love you, how proud I am of you, and how much I've appreciated all your prayers and all your expressions of concern for me during the last month as I've been struggling with some physical issues and some acute pain. You know, we've been through a lot together as a church family in our past. I've prayed for you when you were sick many, many times, and you've prayed for me when I've been ill too, and that's what families do.

And as I always remind you, God is in charge and he's never surprised by anything. He has a plan and we can trust him. And I do in this situation. It's something we're just gonna get through. Most of you know by now that for the past month, I have been plagued with acute sharp pain in both of my arms and in both of my legs. And it was literally paralyzing, and I had to be hospitalized, and I've already had two surgeries dealing with nerve damage in my body. I don't know what else is gonna be coming along up, but thanks again for your prayers as the doctors continue to try to figure out how to relieve my pain.

Now, the reason I'm taping this message instead of teaching it live, I guess it's kinda obvious, because I don't have the energy for all of our weekend services. But I have missed sharing with you, and I just didn't wanna do another week of a guest teacher. So I said put me in a chair out at the farm and let me just talk to you and teach you here. And until I'm able to get some pain relief, I'm probably gonna be taping the message for you from here at the farm. Now, pain in life is inevitable. There is no such thing as a pain-free life. But most people waste their pain, and they don't learn anything from it, and they don't use their pain to help other people. But you know that I strongly believe in never wasting a hurt, never wasting a pain. In the Bible, God tells us to learn from every experience in our life. And he also, by the way, commands pastors specifically, he commands me and other pastors to use our own lives and the life experiences that we go through as models for the people in our flocks that we care for.

One of the life verses that has guided my teaching for 42 years is 1 Thessalonians 2:8. And in that verse, Paul told that church family there in Thessalonica, he told them these words. He said, and this is what I'm saying to you today, "We love you so much that we have shared with you not only the gospel, but we have also shared from our own lives as well, because we love you so deeply". Now, this is called incarnational preaching, when you don't just preach from the word of God, you preach from your own life. The word becomes flesh. And I am to model what I'm learning. So over the past month, when I've been in so much physical pain, I just decided that I was gonna teach a short series on what I've learned about pain.

And I wanna start that series today. We're gonna call this series "Where Is God When It Hurts". Where Is God When It Hurts. It's a question everybody's asked because we all experience pain in many, many different kinds of forms. And I have no doubt that every one of you listening to me right now, you have felt pain not only in your life, but you've felt pain probably in the past year and even in past months. Now, we all have different kinds of pains. It may be physical pain, it may be emotional pain, it may be mental pain. You may have a relationship problem. You've got a conflict going on. You got relational pain going on. You may be experiencing financial pain right now.

There's lots of kinds of pain. You may be struggling with painful memories. That's a big one for a lot of people. Or you're struggling with painful losses, or painful truths that you're finding it difficult to face about yourself. You see, to never have any pain would be inhuman. It's part of being human. So as we start this series, and today I'm just gonna give you the introduction, what's pain? Well, there are a lot of different scientific definitions, but let me just give you a different definition of pain today. You might write this down in your outline. Pain is a warning light that something is wrong. Okay? That's what pain is. Pain is a warning light that something is wrong in your life, in the economy, in your family, in your business, whatever, pain is always a warning light.

Now, let me ask you, if a warning light goes off in your car and you ignore that warning light, does that make the problem go away? Of course not. Ignoring pain will not make it go away. It won't fix the cause of your pain. And to ignore pain in your life is literally one of the dumbest things you can do. Pain is a warning light that something's wrong. There is purpose in pain. In fact, there are many purposes in pain, and we're gonna look at all of them in the next few sessions together.

Now, in this series, "Where's God When I Hurt," in these four messages, I wanna answer four basic questions. First, how can God use pain in my life for my own good? We're gonna look at that today. Second, how can I use the pain that I feel to get better? And then we're gonna do a message on how should I pray when I'm in pain. And finally, we're gonna look at how can I use the pain that I've gone through to help others. It's gonna be a very practical and very encouraging series. And I hope you'll be here all four weeks. By the way, next week, we start with the grand opening of our new worship center in the Lake Forest campus. I hope to see you there.

Now today, I wanna show you five ways that God can use any pain in your life for your own good, regardless of the source. Now, did you hear what I just said? Regardless of the source. Regardless of whether your pain came to you from something good or something bad, whether you brought the pain on yourself from poor choices or other people cause pain in your life and you're innocent, or Satan's trying to attack you with pain and tear you down. You know, we're always worried about the source. No matter what the source of your pain is, God can use it for good in your life. And I hope you're gonna take notes 'cause you're gonna need this the rest of your lives. We're gonna look at right now, five ways that God can use pain for good in my life. All right, write these down. Here's what God's word says.

Five ways God can use pain for good in my life. Number one, God uses pain to guide and direct me. God uses pain to guide and direct me. Proverbs 16:9 says this in the God's Word translation. "A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps". The Lord directs, circle that word directs. So much of the time we're not aware of this, but behind the scenes, God is using even our choices, both the good ones and the bad ones, to direct our steps. God is directing your life. Now, you may ask, what's the most common way that God guides and directs me? Well, I'll tell you. He'd preferred just to direct you through his word. And if you read this all the time, that's probably all he'd need to do. He'd prefer just to direct you through his word. But you don't spend enough time reading God's word, so God depends even more on a second way to guide and direct you, and it is through pain.

Job 36:15 says this, "God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes". Has that ever happened to you? Oh, of course it has. God teaches people through suffering, uses distress to open their eyes. He guides and directs us through pain. You ever thought about why horse riders put a bit in a horse's mouth? Is it for the horse's comfort? Of course not. The rider actually uses discomfort to point the horse in a different direction. It's the rudder, like on a ship, like a tiny rudder on a boat. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of pain to guide and direct us, or to redirect us. Paul had this to say to believers at Corinth who were experiencing some discomfort and pain.

2 Corinthians 7:9 he said, "Now, I'm glad, not because it hurts you". He's talking about some pain they were going through. Paul says, "I'm glad, I'm not glad 'cause it hurts you, but I'm glad because the pain turns you to God". That's the first thing pain does, it guides and directs us. It often turns us in a new direction. You know, when King David realized that God was using the pain in his life that he was experienced to guide and direct him, David was actually grateful for his pain, and in Psalm 119 verse 71, he says this. "You know, it was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws".

It is good for me to be afflicted, David says, so that I might learn your laws, I might learn your statutes. Let me ask you a personal question. Has God ever used pain to get your attention? Oh, yeah. Has God ever used pain to guide you, to guide you in a new direction, to direct you in a new direction, yes. C.S. Lewis once said, "God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pain". Pain is God's megaphone, and it directs you, it guides you. Pain never leaves you where it found you. So that's the first benefit of pain, that God can use it for good. Don't matter how bad the pain is or where it came from. God can use pain to guide and direct me.

Second, God can use pain not only to guide and direct me, he can use pain to goad and correct me. Goad and correct me. Now, what does that mean? What does goad mean? Well, it means to motivate. When somebody goads you on, it means they're spurring you on to action. Pain is a catalyst. Pain catalyzes an action like nothing else. One of the most obvious verses in the Bible is Proverbs 20:30 that says this. "Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways". Hello. Anybody wanna give a testimony on that? Every one of you can think of a personal example right now in your own life where you can give a testimony to the truth of this verse, that sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. Pain prompts us to do things we'd rather put off. It prods us, it pushes us, it goads us. It goads and it motivates, it not just guides and directs, it goads us and pushes us in the right direction.

You know, typically we don't change when we see the light. We think we do. We don't change when we see the light. We change when we feel the heat. I mean, let's just get real honest here. When was the last time you decided to go to the dentist? When did you finally go to your dentist? Was it when you had free time? No. It is when you were in pain and the pain finally got so bad you couldn't no longer delay or postpone or procrastinate to do something about it. Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. Now, pain not only guides and directs, it goads and corrects. Do you know the difference between correction and punishment? If you're a parent, I want you to listen to this particularly. The difference between punishment and correction. You shouldn't punish your kids.

The Bible says you should correct them. Why? Punishment is a penalty for the past. Correction is training for the future. Discipline is not punishment. Discipline is training. Discipline is correction. Sometimes in life, something bad happens. We think God is punishing us when actually God is just correcting us. Why? Because God doesn't punish his children. Yeah, you heard me right. God doesn't punish his children. Why? Because Jesus has already taken all of the punishment for every sin on the cross. And if Jesus took all that punishment and then God punished you, that's double jeopardy. Every sin you ever commit has already been paid for. So God doesn't punish you for your sins, but he definitely does correct you. And correction is the evidence of love. And how does God correct us? Sometimes through pain. Hebrews 12:8-10 says this, "God corrects all of his children, and if he doesn't correct you, then you don't really belong to him".

You see that verse? Look at that verse in your outline. If you don't ever have any correction in your life, if you can get away with murder, then you're not really a believer because God corrects his own children. God doesn't correct those who aren't his children. I don't worry about other people's kids, but I've certainly corrected mine. The Bible says here, "God corrects us for our own good because he wants us to be holy as he is". Another verse that says the same thing is Job chapter 5, verse 17, "Consider yourself fortunate when God All-Powerful chooses to correct you". Just means that he loves you. So God uses pain to goad and motivate and correct me when I'm messing up. You remember the story in the Bible that Jesus told about the arrogant young son who asked for inheritance in advance before his father had even died? Took his money and went and spent it everywhere, wasted it on wine, women, and song.

And he goes down to Sunset Strip in Jerusalem and just blows everything he's got, and pretty soon he's bankrupt, then he's having to feed pigs to make a living. And that's pretty bad if you're a Jew. And the Bible says that he was in a mess. But what was it that motivated that young man in that story of Jesus to finally go back home to his father? It was pain. It was discomfort. Luke chapter 15, verse 14 to 18, the story of the prodigal son. It says, "He spent everything he had. And then he was hungry". Circle that word hungry. Then he was hungry. Now, you know, he is being motivated. He's being goaded, okay? At last, he came to his senses and said, "I'll go. I'll get up, and I'll go to my father". He came to sentences.

Why did he come to his sentence? Why did he come to his senses? Because he was motivated. And why was he motivated? 'Cause he was hungry. Who are the most motivated salesmen? Hungry salesmen. Made me think of when Josh was a little kid, one time he skipped lunch at school, and he came in complaining to Kay. He said, "My stomach aches". And Kay said, "Well, it's 'cause there's nothing in it". About five minutes later, I walked in and I said, "My head aches," and Josh said, "Mom says because there's nothing in it". If you want your life to go smoother, all right, you want your life to go smoother, just start cooperating when God brings any kind of correction into your life. He's not punishing you. God isn't mad at you. He loves you. He's mad about you.

And Hebrews 12:7 says this, "Let God train you, for he's doing what any loving father does for his children. Whoever heard of a child who was never corrected"? Circle the word train and circle the word corrected. They go together. That's the second purpose of pain, to correct us, to train us, to goad us and correct us. Now, how many of you who are parents would rather not have to discipline? Well, all of us. But how many of you sometimes have to discipline your kids anyway? All of us. God's the same way. He'd rather not correct you, he'd rather not have to discipline you, he'd rather not have to allow pain in your life. But sometimes the only way to train is through pain. Did you hear that? Sometimes the only way to train is through pain. Aristotle once said, "We cannot learn without pain". And I would say that some things you learned, you learned by being burned.

Let me give you a personal testimony. In all my years of walking with the Lord, over 60 years of walking with the Lord, I can tell you this. I have learned absolutely nothing from pleasure. All the important stuff I've learned in life, I learned through pain. I learned nothing through pleasure. I learned nothing from success. Everything I learned, I learned through pain. The man who's never suffered, the woman who's never suffered, they don't know much, because the greatest insights on life are found at the center of pain. You learn things there that you can't learn any other way. But when that happens, never doubt God's motive. He is a loving father. He is not punishing you. He is correcting you because he loves you. So let's review. How can God use things for good, even the pain in my life for good? Well, he uses it to guide and direct me. Second, he uses it to goad and correct me.

Number three, God uses pain to gauge and inspect me. God uses pain to gauge and inspect me. In other words, to find out what's really inside of me, to test my character. People are like teabags, you don't know what's really in them till you drop them in hot water. In Job chapter 7, verse 18, it says, "You, God, inspect them every morning and you test them every minute". Did you know that God's inspecting you every morning and every minute? Another verse, Jeremiah 17:10, "The Lord searches our hearts". That's inspection. "And he examines our deepest motivations". Which we don't even know ourselves. Why does he do that? So he can give to each person his right reward according to his deeds, how he has lived. So how does God inspect us and test us?

Well, look at the next verse on your outline, Isaiah 48, verse 10, "I have tested you," notice this, underline it, "in the furnace of affliction". God uses pain to test your character. God uses pain to test your commitment. God uses pain to test your faith. The Bible often compares suffering to a refining fire. Like when you heat up gold to burn off all the impurities so it's just pure gold, he burns off the impurities and silver and other gold, precious metals. So let me just ask you right now. If you're going through pain of any kind, are you allowing that pain to burn off the impurities in your life? What are you allowing pain to burn off? Self-centeredness? Pride? Materialism? Impatience?

Pain is a measuring tool, it's an evaluation tool. It tests our character. And your reaction to pain does reveal a lot about you. Look at this verse, James chapter 1, verse 2 and 3. We covered it when we were going through the James series, It says, "God tests and challenges". Well, it says, "Tests and challenges come at you from all sides," and we know that. You get tests and challenges from all sides. "And you know that under pressure, your faith is forced into the open to show its true colors". Don't you love that in the Message paraphrase? He's saying pain is a test. It exposes the real you. It shows what you're really like inside. Image and reputation, that's what everybody thinks you are. Character is what you really are. Character is what you are in the dark. It's hard to maintain an image when you're in pain. Or as Shakespeare said, "Nobody can be a philosopher with a toothache".

So has God ever tested your character with pain? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And so God wants to test you when it's painful. When you say, well, I have integrity, but are you willing to lower your stand when it's painful? You might say I am committed, but do you wanna throw in the towel when it's painful? You say I'm a woman or I'm a man of faith, but do you wanna give up and get discouraged when pain comes into your life? Your faith is measured by your reaction to pain. Your commitment is measured by your reaction to pain. Your integrity is measured by your reaction to pain. Your Christ-likeness is determined and shown revealed by how you handle pain. Your maturity shows how you, your pain shows how mature you are. What does pressure reveal about your faith? Are you more than just a fair-weather believer? You know, this is the reason, by the way, that it took them 40 years in the desert to get from Egypt to Israel, the Promised Land, once they had been freed from 400 years of slavery.

You know that story. You can walk from Egypt over to Israel in about a month or less, and it took them 40 years. What in the world they doing out there in the desert? Being tested, and God gave them seven major tests. And every time they failed the test, he says, okay, one more lap around the desert. Deuteronomy 8:2, God says to the Israelites, "God led you through the wilderness for 40 years, humbling you and testing," circle that, "testing you to find out how you would respond and whether or not you would really obey him". These are the tests, and I'm saying, are you going through pain right now? This is a test. Are you going through an emotional wilderness right now? This is a test. God may be guiding you, or God may be goading you, or God may be gauging you. He may be seeking to inspect you and find out what's really on the inside. Maybe though your pain that you're going through right now is for a fourth reason. Write this down.

Number four. God uses pain to goad and to guide and to guard or gauge. But number four, God uses pain to guard and protect me. God uses pain to guard and protect me. This is a wonderful thing that we don't often realize, but Psalm 91, verse 3 says this, "God will save you from hidden traps". And you say, what traps? Well, that's why you don't see them, they're hidden. But all around you are hidden traps that Satan has planted and the world has planted and the flesh has planted. And those traps are there. Sometimes God uses pain to keep you from walking into a hidden trap. He uses pain to protect you, to guard you and protect you.

Job 36 verse 16, "God has led you away from danger, giving you freedom". Sometimes a pain in one area keeps you from having a even worse pain in another area where if you'd walked into that, it would've been a disaster. Sometimes pain protects you from something worse. It prevents you from greater harm. Sometimes pain is actually a blessing in disguise. For instance, you get a fever. I've had a fever off and on for a month. A fever warns you of an infection or an inflammation that needs to be dealt with. Sometimes a small pain in your life can alert you to life-threatening illnesses. I can't tell you how many men in Saddleback Church who told me they had a little pain here or there in their chest somewhere go to the doctor, they say, "Oh, you've got four blocked arteries and we're gonna have to do quadruple bypass".

A small pain can alert you to a major life-threatening illness. And when you're in pain emotionally, you're sad, you're discouraged, you're depressed, you're angry, you're upset, you're irritated, you're frustrated, any kind of emotional pain, painful emotions means something is out of order in your relationship to God or your relationship to others or your relationship to yourself. And so sometimes God will allow pain to keep you from falling off in the ditch. You know, the Bible says the Lord is my shepherd. Shepherds in the Middle East will sometimes, if they've got a sheep that has a tendency to wander off, and if it wanders off from the flock, it's gonna get eaten by a wolf pretty quickly. And so sometimes the shepherd will intentionally break the leg of a lamb that is prone to wander. Why? To keep it from getting in trouble.

They're guarding that lamb. They broke the leg to guard the lamb. They did it for protection. They did it for protection. Do you remember the story of Joseph? How everything in his life for the first 40 years, everything went wrong? He was painfully mistreated for years. He went through all kinds of injustice. He had racism. He had family conflict. He had people accusing him of rape and all kinds of things that just weren't, he was thrown in prison for no reason. And he was painfully mistreated for year after year after year. But God was guarding and guiding and growing him and getting him ready for greatness. And looking back later in Genesis 50:20, Joseph says this, about all the pain that had happened in the first 40 years of his life, talking to the people that brought on the pain, the people who sold him into slavery. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good".

Now, let me tell you this, friends. There are people in your life who wanna harm you. They don't like you. They don't like you. 'Cause you're a Christian, or they just don't like you, whatever, they intend to harm you, but God intends it for good. And I will tell you that just as in Joseph's life, there is no greatness without pain. You know, later Joseph had two sons, and one he named Manasseh and one he named Ephraim. Manasseh means made me forget. He said when that little boy was born, it made me forget all my pain. And then he had Ephraim who he said he is fruitful, and he forgot all the pain when he looked at those little babies.

And here's the problem. We can't see what God sees, 'cause God could see the whole picture and we don't see it, so we get impatient. But I wanna encourage you to remember this verse there on your outline, John 13 verse 7, where Jesus says this. "You don't realize now what I'm doing, but later you'll understand". What an encouraging verse. John 13:7, "You don't realize now what I'm doing, but later you'll understand". Many times I have been through pain in 52 years of ministry, and I'd have to say that God was saying to me, Rick, you don't understand now why you're going through this, but you will one day. As we start this series on "Where Is God When It Hurts," I want you to remember that God uses pain to guide and direct, to guide and direct me, to goad and correct me, to gauge and inspect me, and to guard and protect me.

But there's one more way. God uses pain to grow and perfect me. God uses pain to grow and perfect me. Margaret Carlson wrote a book years ago called "Grace Grows Best in Winter". And this is the point. You know, it's possible to grow during times of bright, fair weather, but you know what? You put down the roots and you go deeper during the dark days of life. I could read you a hundred, maybe a thousand letters where people would say, "Dear Pastor, I have grown more through this separation," than whatever. I have grown more through this illness. I have grown more through losing my job and being unemployed. I have grown more through this tragedy than I ever imagined. I have grown more through this loss. I have grown more through this storm because God uses it to grow and perfect me.

James chapter 1, verse 4, "For when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don't try to squirm out of all your problems, then you'll be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete". That is my prayer for you as a pastor, as a pastor who's in pain right now. My prayer for you is that you will be ready for anything strong in character, full and complete. I want you to write this down, 'cause I wanna summarize everything I'm trying to teach you this week, and it's this. Write this down. Pain is the high cost of growth. Pain is the high cost of growth. And it's cliche, but it's true. There is no gain without pain.

You see, the fact is we want the quick solution. We want the easy fix. We want the pill or the seminar or the book that's gonna change everything without pain. It isn't gonna happen. We want the product, that's maturity, without the process, which is pain. You see, I guess what I'm trying to say to you this weekend is the very thing that's discouraging you right now is the very thing that God is using to develop you right now. What discourages you will develop you if you'll look at it from God's point of view. Again, James chapter 1, verse 4, from the Message. "So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed" One of my favorite authors is J.I. Packer, who died about a year ago. And Dr. Packer wrote these words. "God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with all the other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. It deepens our dependence upon Christ for strength each day, and the weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually".

I've been leaning on the Lord for a month in intense pain. I don't know what pain you're going through, but I will tell you this, if you'll lean on the Lord, you'll make it. How was David able to write such beautiful, powerful, moving psalms? Well, through all the pain he went through. If you look at David's life, it was anything but happy most of the time. I mean, you look at his family background. He's lonely, he's rejected by his brothers, he's neglected. And yet, most of the time, even after he's anointed king, he's on the run, and the existing king is trying to kill him, and he's hiding out in caves. David wrote his most beautiful words in his deepest pain. I come back to this verse on the end of your outline, 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 9, where Paul says this happened, when Paul talked about, he gives a long list of all the things he had gone through.

You know, he said I've been shipwrecked, I've been beaten, I've been tortured, I've been in jail, you know, I've died, nearly died three or four times. And he said, "This happened, all these tough things". He said, "We despaired at even life itself". In other words, I was ready to give up. He said, "This happened so that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God". Friends, you don't know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you've got. And I wanna end this simple introduction to our series on "Where Is God When It Hurts" with a simple question. Where are you wasting your pain? Pain is inevitable. Pain is not optional. Pain is a part of life. Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional. And the question I wanna ask you is the question Paul asked in Galatians 3, verse 4. "Has all your painful experience brought you nowhere"?

In this series, I want you to see how pain will make you better, not bitter. I want you to learn how to not waste your hurt. The fact is, as we at Saddleback Church have been involved in one international disaster after another, you notice that when people go through tragedy and disaster and pain, some people turn to God, and some people turn away from God. Why that happens, I don't know. It doesn't seem to me to make sense to turn away from God when he's offering you the comfort and the power you need to make it through the time. But pain turns some people into saints, and it turns other people into devils. It turns some people into great Christian leaders, and it turns other people into dictators and things like that. What makes the difference? How you choose to respond. Am I gonna let this make me bitter? Or am I gonna let this make me better?

My plea to you today, friends, is to give your hurt and give your heart to Jesus Christ. You know, Jesus didn't come to explain away your pain. He came to share it. And he says, "Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest". He enters into our pain. He is a God who suffers with us. And he's here to walk with you through whatever pain it is. It may be physical. You may have a chronic illness. It may be emotional, you may have a handicap of some kind that bothers you. 1 Peter 4:19 says this. "If you're suffering according to God's will, keep on," let me stop right there.

Notice that verse, if you're suffering according to God's will. There are some Christians who think it's never God's will for you to suffer, that you should never have any pain. And if you don't have any pain in your life, it means you don't have enough faith. They are not telling you the truth. They're lying. Because the Bible says the exact opposite. 1 Peter 4:19 says, "Sometimes suffering is the will of God". It's not like you've sinned. No. That's what Job's friends said. "Job, the reason you're suffering is 'cause you sinned". And God said, "No, he hasn't sinned. He was the most righteous man on earth". 1 Peter 4:19, "If you're suffering according to God's will," sometimes you're gonna suffer, sometimes you're gonna have a pain and it's God's will. "Keep on doing what is right and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you". He'll never fail you.

Now, let me close with a little self-evaluation, okay? I want you to just think about what's hurting you. Think of the pain in your life right now. That shouldn't take you very long. You need to say this, Father, say this to God. Father, are you using this pain to guide me in a new direction? Are you using this pain to goad me and spur me into action? Are you using this pain to gauge me, to show me what I need to work on? Are you using this pain to guard me, to guard me from something more harmful? Or are you using this pain to grow me and make me more like you? Are you using it to inspect me, to correct me, to direct me, to perfect me?

I close again with 1 Corinthians 1:9. "This happened so that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God". You know, the eminent psychiatrist, what was his name? Scott Peck, who wrote "The Road Less Traveled," he said this, "Fearing pain, because we fear pain," he says, "almost all of us to a greater or lesser degree attempt to avoid our problems. We procrastinate hoping they'll go away. We try to ignore them. We try to pretend they don't exist. Fearing pain," he says, we do these things. We attempt to get out of them rather than suffer through them. And here's what Scott Peck says. "This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional pain that's inherent in them is the primary basis of human mental illness". I wanna challenge you to let whatever pain you're going through right now guide you into the caring arms of Jesus Christ.

Would you bow your head with me right now and let me lead you in a prayer? If you've never opened your life to Jesus Christ, or you're never sure that you've settled this issue of am I in the family of God, I want you to pray this prayer. Say this aloud in your heart, in your mind. God knows what you're saying:

God, you know the pain I'm going through right now. You know the pain. And today I realize that others may mean it for bad, but you mean it for good in my life, to direct me and correct me, to perfect me and inspect me, to protect me from something worse. God, thank you for being such a loving God. Thank you for loving me. Thank you that you care about my pain, that you're not an unsympathetic, unempathetic God. That Jesus, you died on the cross and carried the pain of my sin so I don't have to carry that punishment. Jesus Christ, as much as I know how, I open my life completely to you, and I give you every area of my life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the painful, the shameful. And I give it all to you. And I ask you to put a new heart in me, a new spirit, a new joy, a new purpose, a new passion, a new happiness. I wanna be connected to you, Jesus Christ, for the rest of my life. I wanna learn to love you and trust you. And when I go through problems and when I go through pain that makes no sense, help me to remember that you said you don't understand it now, but you will later, what I'm doing. Help me to trust you. And I commit every area of my life to you, Jesus Christ, now. I ask you to save me in Jesus' name. Amen.

Are you Human?:*