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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - Using Your Pain to Help Others

Rick Warren - Using Your Pain to Help Others

Rick Warren - Using Your Pain to Help Others

Now, today, I want to wrap up this little mini series on pain by sharing how to use your pain to help others. How can you use the pain in your life to help others? See don't waste your hurt. Don't waste your pain. You can use the painful experiences that you've had for your own benefit, but you can also use the pain that you experienced to help others. That's called redemptive suffering. It's what Jesus did. Jesus went through enormous suffering and pain and he didn't do it for his benefit. He did it for your benefit. His pain was not wasted. His pain provided salvation for the whole world, for the rest of us. And his suffering was not wasted at all. You don't have to waste your suffering either.

God wants you to take any pain that you've gone through in the past or going through today or in the future. And he wants you to use it for your own benefit, but he also wants you to use it to help others. So take out your outline right now. Okay. Take out your message notes and the key scripture for this idea that we're thinking through this weekend is Second Corinthians chapter one. Second Corinthians chapter one. Why don't you go home and read the whole chapter, but in verse four and verse six, it says this. "God comforts us in our troubles," that's pain, "So that we can comfort others. And when others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort that God has given to us".

So when we are weighed down with troubles, it's for your benefit. That's redemptive suffering. When we are weighed down with trouble, it's for your benefit, circle your benefit. In words, sometimes we suffer for the benefit others so that we can be an encouragement to you. Now, as I said, the fact is you're going to be hurt many, many times in life in many ways. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. Now that pain will either make you bitter or better. We've talked about that hundreds of times.

So how do you know when you've been and truly healed from your pain? How do you know when you have been healed from your past hurts? The answer is this. You began to use your painful experiences to help others. That's how you know you've gone through recovery. That's how you know you've been healed. In celebrate recovery, we call this the 12th step. That you're not really healed of your own hurts. You're not really recovered until you begin to focus outward. You start helping other people the way the Bible tells us to do. If you've been around Saddleback for any length of time, you've heard me say this. Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt. Your greatest ministry, your greatest contribution in life will likely flow out of your deepest pain.

Who can be more empathetic to somebody going through a certain kind of pain than somebody who's already experienced that certain kind of pain. In other words, who could better help somebody going through the pain of a miscarriage than somebody who's had a miscarriage? Who could better help somebody struggling with drugs or sex or a divorce or unemployment or special needs children or a thousand other things than people who have been there and have already experienced that kind of pain and suffering. What I want to do quickly today is help you see four ways that you can use the pain of your past and the pain that you're going through right now. And even pain you go through in the future that you go through in the future. You'll use the pain to help heal others.

Okay. Now, before I give you those four things, I want you to write down this sentence, just write it down there, somewhere on your notes. I'm a product of my past, but I'm not a prisoner of my past. Big difference, write that down. I am a product of my past. You can't deny that you are shaped by all the good and experiences of your life, but you're not a prisoner of your past. You can use it to be a better person. Okay? Now your painful experiences are not going to be useful if you learn to share four things with other people about your pain. All right, write these down. Four things that you can share with other people about your pain in the past today and even tomorrow.

Number one, first, you'll help other people if you share how pain got your attention. I share how pain got my attention. Has pain ever got your attention? Oh baby. It has. I bet you, you could probably think of many, many examples pretty quickly of when pain got your attention. Remember, I said that pain is a warning light that tells us something's wrong in our lives. And CS Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pain". Pain is God's megaphone. God is very upfront and very open about how he uses pain to get our attention. Look at these verses on your outline.

In Job chapter 36, verse 15. Second part of verse says, "Hard times..." This is the contemporary English version. Hard times and trouble are God's way of getting our attention. Anybody want to give a testimony on that? Hard times in trouble are God's way of getting our attention. For the last two years in a pandemic, God has been getting the attention of the world through hard time in trouble. Pain is often a wake up call. It's like an alarm going off. It's God's way of saying to get going and do something about something you need to change in your life. Now in this new century version of Job 35:50, it says this. "God gets them to listen through pain". It's kind of hard to ignore pain. We can ignore a lot of things in life, but it's kind of hard to ignore pain. God gets them to listen. Underline that. God trying to get you to listen right now through pain.

I remember years ago, I had a pair of shoes that I really loved. They weren't very good looking, but they were the most comfortable shoes they ever had. And I wore them and wore them and wore them and wore them until finally, I got holes in the bottom of the soles and Kay said, "Honey, you got to throw those away. "And I said, no, I'm just not going to cross my legs in public, because they're comfortable. And so if I'm sitting on stage, nobody will see it because I'm standing. They don't know I've got holes in my shoes. So I kept wearing them even with holes in the soles. And I did that until one thing happened. It came winter and it started raining. And then all of a sudden I had to get at some new shoes because the rain was coming through. Sometimes it's the rain that forces you to do something you needed to do a long time ago.

Do you remember the example of the prodigal son? How everything went right in his life at the start. But when it all went wrong, it says he came to his senses. He ends up feeding pigs. Ends up eating the pig food in the foreign country. And he goes, what am I doing here? Pain got his attention. Pain often gets our attention. You see, we rarely change until the fear of change is exceeded by pain. And when the pain exceeds the fear, then we change. We rarely change until we get pain. We postpone difficult decisions. We ignore a problem until it gets to the stage that it's a crisis. We delay counseling until it's too late. There's so many stories of the Bible. I could give you example how God uses pain to shake us up and to get us to move on.

One time, Elijah was having a pity party after a big event in his life. And he'd gone to this brook share and he was sleeping and God was providing food and water, food and water, food and water. And he was having a good old time and he was just going to stay there. He's quite comfortable by the brook share. And then it says one day the Brook dried up. One of my favorite verses in the Bible. One day the brook dried up. Has the brook ever dried up in your life? Oh, yeah. Some source that you were looking to for either income or support or happiness or joy or something, the brook often will dry up in your life. And you know what? Elijah gets mad at God. And he said, "God, don't you love me anymore? You were providing this water for me. And the food was here and the birds were here and the brook dried up and why"? He says don't you love me anymore?

And God says to Elijah, "Of course I love you. I just don't want you to stay at the brook. And as long as the brook was there, you were going to stay there. And I didn't create you to just live at the brook. I didn't live you to just go fishing all your life". And so sometimes God has to dry up the brook in your life and you lose the job that was so fulfilling and the relationship that you had moves away or whatever. Sometimes God uses pain to get our attention. That's why in Second Corinthians chapter seven, verse nine, we looked at this verse a few weeks ago- Corinthians chapter seven, verse nine. We looked at this verse a few weeks ago.

Paul says to the Corinthians, talking about the suffering they're going through, "I'm glad, not because it hurts you, but because the pain turns you to God". Sometimes pain gets our attention. Now, how you share your pain with other people will determine if it's helpful or if it's not. Remember, we've talked about how God can use pain for good in your life. How could God use pain in your life for good in other people's lives? Well, first you have to share how it got your attention. You have to tell people because maybe they don't realize that God's trying to get their attention. But if you want to experience helping other people, when you share about your own pain and your own past, you have to be real, you have to be authentic, you have to be humble, you have to be honest.

Now, the best example of authenticity in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. Nobody had a greater impact on people than Paul. Why? Because he shared from the gut. He shared from the heart. He was always gut-level honest. If you want to help other people, you want to help your kids. You want to help your friends. You want to help your neighbors. You want to help people, coworkers, you have to learn to be authentic about a number of authentic areas in your life. Let me give you some examples. You write these down. When you're sharing about your own pain in order to help others, like Paul, you have to do these things.

Number one, be open about my feelings. Be open about my feelings. You can't mask your feelings and help anybody. You don't help anybody by stuffing your emotions. 2 Corinthians 6:11, "We've spoken frankly to you. We've opened our hearts wide". I try to do this. When I'm sick, I tell you I'm sick. When I'm down, I tell you I'm down. When I'm discouraged or when I'm frustrated, I try to tell you. Be humble. Okay? And be open about your feelings. Number two, be humble about your faults. I need to be humble about my faults. Paul says in Galatians 5:6, "Each of us have to bear the faults and the burdens of his own, for none of us is perfect".

Have you figured that out yet? Well, if you know you're not perfect, why do you pretend that you are? Be humble about my faults. Number three, be frank about my failures. That's what it means to be authentic. Can you be frank about your failures? 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief". I'm the worst. Paul goes, "I think I'm the biggest sinner on the block". Be humble. And then be honest about your frustrations, your fears, your frustrations, your faults. Be honest about my frustrations. Write that down. Romans 7: 18. Paul says, "I've got the desire to do what is right, but I can't carry it out. I keep on doing the evil I don't want to do".

Have you ever said anything like that to anybody? "You know what? I want to do the right things, but I don't. And I don't want to do the wrong things, but I do". That's being honest. That's being honest. That's being humble. That's being authentic. So you be honest about your faults and your failures and your frustrations. And you be... Write this down. Candid about my fears. This is a hard one. We don't want to admit our fears to other people. 2 Corinthians 12:20, Paul says, "I do admit that I have fears". Now, this is the greatest Christian who ever lived except for Jesus himself. "I do admit," Paul says, "That I have fears". Have you done that? Have you admitted your fears to anybody? He says, "That when I come to you, when I come, you'll disappoint me and I'll disappoint you".

Boy, that's pretty blunt. And he said, "And in frustration with each other, everything will fall to pieces". Have you ever been that gut-level honest with anybody? So, I've got to share how pain got my attention. That's the first thing. You'll help other people if you'll say, "Here's how God got my attention". And you have to do that by saying, "Here's my frustrations, my fears, my faults, my failures. These are the things that are in my life". We all know we've got them. Why can't we share?

Second, once I have shared how God used pain to get my attention. Second thing, write this down. I share what I learned. I share what I learned from my pain. In a minute, I'm going to give you some homework on writing down, thinking through some of the lessons that you've learned through pain. Because there's some things we only learn through pain. You look for the lessons that you can pass on to friends, family, future generations. Job chapter 36, verse 15 says this. "God teaches people through suffering". Whoa. Did you know that? God teaches. Circle that word. God teaches people through suffering. And it says, "He uses distress to open their eyes".

We could just stop right there and go home and think about, "How has God used distress? How has God used stress in my life to open my eyes to something that was out of whack"? God uses suffering to teach us. He uses distress to open our eyes. God's not playing games with you. So what is God trying to open your eyes to? The distress you're going through our right now, what is God trying to show you? What are you learning? Once you learn it, he wants you to pass those lessons on to others. And some things we only learn through distress. Remember this verse from a few weeks ago? Proverbs 20, verse 30 in the Today's English Version. "Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways". Duh, duh.

Now how many times have you heard me say, it's wise to learn from experience, but wiser to learn from the experiences of others? That's what we're talking about this weekend. I don't have time to make all the mistakes myself. You don't have time to make all the mistakes yourself. Neither does anybody else. That's why we can learn from each other's mistakes if we'll be humble enough to be honest about how God uses pain to get our attention and how God uses pain to teach us lessons. Now, we all go through different kinds of trouble. They're varied. There are many different kinds of trouble. But regardless, there are always three things that God wants us to learn from pain. You might write these down. And then write down how you've learned them and how you are learning them now.

Number one, I've learned to depend more on God. I have learned to depend more on God. That's what pain does. 2 Corinthians chapter one, verses eight to 10, that famous passage that we read little bit earlier, Paul says this. He's talking about all the tough time he went through in Asia. And he said, "We were crushed". Have you ever felt crushed by life? "We were overwhelmed". You ever felt overwhelmed by life? "We saw how powerless we were to help ourselves". But he says that was good. How in the world could that be good? He says, "But that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us".

And you know what? He did. He did save us. He did help us. We don't know God is all we need until God is all we've got. God wants to teach you about himself. He wants to teach you about his power through your weakness. He wants to teach you about his love when you feel unlovely. He wants to teach you about his grace when you feel unforgiven. He wants to teach you about his wisdom when you feel dumb and don't know what to do, don't know which way to turn. God says, "I want you to learn some lessons". And one of the things we learned the lessons about God and others are lessons we learned about ourselves.

A second thing you can share with other people that you learn through pain is I learned to trust and obey God's word. I learned to trust and obey God's word. It's easy to trust God when things going great. It's not so easy when things are going bad. It's easy to obey God's word when I like to do it. It's not easy to obey God's word when I don't like to do it. That's why Psalm 119, there on your outline, verse 67 says this, "Before I was afflicted..." What's affliction? Sorrow, sadness, sickness, suffering, sin. "Before I was afflicted..." It's pain. Before I was in pain, he says, "I used to wander off, but now I closely follow your word".

That's David talking. So what's he saying there? He's saying that life is a school. And problems are the curriculum. Pain is the curriculum. And some lessons we only learn through failure and through mistakes. Look at the next verse on your outline there. Psalm 119, verse 71, David admits... He's talking about, he's just gone through a very painful time. He says, "It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws. I learned to trust God and to obey his word. It was the best thing that could've happened to me. It taught me to pay attention to your laws".

Some of these verses you should put on little cards and write them out and memorize them, because when you're in pain, you're going to need them. I learned that God loves me all the time. He's not going to leave me. I learned that God's word is always correct. I learned that doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. Another thing, write this down. I learned through pain that I need other people. That's another thing Paul mentions. I learned through pain that I need other people. If you've never had any pain in your life, you wouldn't think you needed anybody. It's only in pain you need people to help you.

Galatians 6:2 says this, "Carry each other's burdens". In other words, I'm supposed to carry your burden, you're supposed to help carry mine. When I'm in pain, you help and pray for me. When you're in pain, I help and pray for you. I wonder how many people in our church have been brought meals in our meals ministry. Literally hundreds of thousands of meals have been brought to people in pain over the 42 years of Saddleback Church. Carry each other's burdens. And in this way, you fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? Love your neighbor as yourself.

Now I want you to listen very closely to what I'm about to say, because it's a profound thought if you'll get it. God wants to teach you about yourself through other people. You may not realize this, but God wants to teach you about you, but not directly. He wants to teach you about you through other people. And that's why other people in your life may reveal a weakness, may point out a blind spot in your character because they can see what you can't see. Let's just admit it, folks. Most of the time, we're not willing to face the truth about ourselves. Admit it, folks. Most of the time, we're not willing to face the truth about ourselves until we're forced to. The heart is deceitful. We lie to ourselves. We don't want to admit the truth about ourselves. So when problems arise in your life and when you're in pain, don't simply ask why, ask what. What do you want me to learn? What do you up me to learn?

Now, to help other people with your pain, that's what we're talking about this weekend, I first have to share how pain got my attention. I have to be honest about my faults and my failures and my frustrations and my feelings. I got to be honest. I have to share how pain got my attention. Second, I have to share what I learned from pain. I just mentioned three things, but there are a lot more things you learn.

Third, if I want to use my pain to help others, I don't want to waste the pain I've gone through, I need to share how God is bringing good out of my pain. That may take a little bit of looking at, and usually you can't see it when you're in the pain. It's only you looking back. Hindsight is 2020. How God is bringing good out of my pain. Philippians chapter one, verse 12 says this, "I want you to listen". He says, "I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters..." Paul's talking. "I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News".

What's he talking about? He's writing a letter to the people in Philippi. He says, "I want you to know, you guys. I know you're praying for me. Everything that's happened to me here has helped spread the Good News". Where was Paul when he wrote this? In a dark, dank, dirty, smelly, underground prison in a dungeon in Rome chained to a 24-hour guard. And he says, "I want you to know that everything that's happened to me has caused the gospel to spread". Later, he admits, he says, "Even people in Nero's household have come to Christ". It's Caesar at the time. People had come to Christ because Paul was in prison in Rome. That's perspective, to be able to say in the middle of his darkest, deepest dungeon, you know what? I can even see how God's using this for good in the lives of other people.

Now, the next verse is one of the greatest promises in scripture, and we keep coming back to it. We come to this verse probably five times a year, Romans 8:28. "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God". All right, let's just review it again. What it doesn't say. It doesn't say we know that everything that happens in life is good, because it's not. It doesn't say we know that everything that happens in life is a happy ending. It's not. Not everything is a happy ending in life. What it does say, "We know," not hope, not wish, not imagine, we desire, we're confident. "We know that God causes..." There is a grand design, a scheme in everything behind it all. Even the pain I'm going through in my body right now, God has a grand scheme behind it. There's a grand designer. "We know that God causes all things to work together".

Now, our lives are not the result of fate. Our lives are not the result of random chance. You are not an accident. The pain in your life is not a result of bad luck. Yeah, we make mistakes. Yeah, we do. We make mistakes. We don't eat right. We don't live right. We don't talk right. We don't do right. We don't do a lot of things right. We make mistakes, but God doesn't. "We know that in all things, God works..." It says, "In all things". What's included in all? All. What's included in all? Every mistake? Yep. Every failure? Yep. Yep. Bankruptcy? Yeah. Disease? Yeah. Divorce? Yeah. Death? Yeah. Miscarriage? Yeah. It all fits into this plan. "In all things, God works together for good".

Now, circle the word together. It doesn't say works individually. It says, "works together for good," not separately. Yesterday or a couple days ago when Kay was making my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, which is the dressing ... Oh, my. Baby, oh baby. The dressing. Any one of those individual ingredients of dressing doesn't taste good. Flour by itself, corn meal by itself, salt by itself, the seasoning by itself. Okay, turkey juice by itself. No, no, they're okay. But you mix them all together, and that Thanksgiving dressing, oh. "All things work together for good". Can God bring good out of evil? Yes. It's called the crucifixion. Was the crucifixion good? No, it was evil. They crucified the perfect, sinless Son of God. But you know what? God used it for good.

It's interesting. I was reading again the other day because it's Christmas time. In Matthew chapter one, we have the genealogy of Jesus. In Hebrew culture, they always trace the genealogy of someone through the father. Not through the mother, but through the father. And that's why in all those Old Testament genealogies that, so and so was the father of so and so, who was the father of so and so, who was the father of so and so. They traced the family lineage or genealogy through the dad. But it's interesting. In Jesus's genealogy mentioned in the Bible, there are four women mentioned. That's unheard of. That's unheard of. If you go and you study those four women who are mentioned in Jesus' genealogy, every single one of those women had a life filled with pain. She had a painful story to tell.

Who are the four women that are mentioned in Jesus' genealogy? Well, the first one's Tamar. Tamar had two husbands who were jerks, and she was seduced by her father-in-law. If any woman had a right to hate men, it was Tamar. And yet, God says she was in the lineage of the family tree of Jesus. She gets mentioned for special... She'd been sexually abused and misused and mistreated. She's in the genealogy of Jesus, a life of pain. The second person mentioned in the genealogy, second woman is Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute. But she lived by faith when she made the right decision. She helped God's people. You know that story, and she's in the hall of fame, and she's in the genealogy of Jesus. Rahab, Tamar.

The third woman mentioned is Ruth. Ruth wasn't even Jewish. She was from the nation of Moab. She was a Moabite. She married a Jewish man illegally. It was unlawful for her to marry a Jewish man, and yet her child is in the genealogy of Jesus. Comes down to David. Then the fourth woman mentioned is Bathsheba. We all know who she was. She had an affair with David, who had her husband killed. So murder and adultery in her life. All four of these women had tremendous pain in their life, and yet God used all four women to bring the Messiah into the world. Now, if you don't get anything else, I want you to get this. God weaves both our mistakes and our hurts into his plan. He uses both our sin and our suffering in his plan.

Now, I want you to think of the biggest mistake you've ever made in your life. Can God use that in your life? Yep. Can God use that in helping the lives of others? Yep, if you'll be willing to talk about it. I want you to think of your biggest disappointment. Can God use that in your life for good? Yep. Can God use that in the life of others for good? Yeah, if you'll be willing to be honest and talk about it. Think of your biggest embarrassment, your biggest hurt. Can God use that in your life? Yes. Can God use that in the lives of others? Yes, if you'll let God use it. But you got to be honest with God. See, remember, God knew it was going to happen even before it happened.

So he developed a plan in advance to bring good out of it. And he will, if you will let him. This is how God can use the pain in your life to help other people. Your pain is not something to run from. Your pain is something to embrace and let God use it for good in your life and let God use it for good in the lives or others. That's redemptive suffering. Don't waste your hurt. Friends, this is how you can be optimistic and realistic at the same time about all that's happened in your life.

Remember the story of Joseph? Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, resisted his boss's wife's seduction, was thrown into prison for a rape that he did not commit. He was as clean as a whistle. Everything in his life goes wrong for 40 years. And one day when he's finally... God's turned it all around. God was getting him exactly where he wanted him to be. In Genesis 50, verse 20, when he's confronting his brothers who started the whole mess of pain because of jealousy, he says, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good". God and his purpose for your life are bigger than the problems and the pain you go through. Now, to help others benefit from my pain, let's review, I must first share how pain got my attention. Second, I have to share what I learned from my pain. Third, I have to share how God is bringing good out of my pain.

Then number four, this is a big one, I need to share how Jesus gave me hope in my pain. Share how Jesus gave me hope in my pain. Everybody, friend, needs hope. What people around you need more than anything else, they need more than solutions, is that they need to feel hope. You need to be a hope dispenser. Now, the classic passage on hope is 2 Corinthians and chapter one. And in 2 Corinthians, chapter one, the first part of that chapter, Paul outlines all of the pain he's been through. And in Verse 8, he says this: "Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the trouble," that's the pain, that "we suffered in Asia. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength. We even gave up hope of living".

Paul said, I was so discouraged, I was ready to kick the bucket. I just thought I was going to die. He said, "Truly, in our own hearts we believed we would die". "...But this happened so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God, who raises people from the dead". I love that. He goes, we thought we were going to die. It doesn't matter. God can raise the dead. And he said, and God did save us. "God saved us from great dangers of death, and he will continue to save us. We have put our HOPE in him, and he will save us again". As a pastor, I have talked to thousands and thousands of people in pain. Some of the most common complaints that I hear are, "My life's out of control," or "I can't seem to change".

I want to change, but I can't. But bottom line is this: I feel hopeless. I feel hopeless. Sometimes life just kicks the hope out of you. And maybe that's how you feel right now. Maybe you're feeling that. Maybe you feel trapped. You feel trapped in a hopeless marriage. Maybe you feel trapped in a hopeless job. Maybe you feel trapped in a hopeless financial crisis. Maybe you feel trapped by a hopeless health problem. We all need hope to cope. But one of the best places to get hope besides God himself is from other people who've been there before you. Now, if you've had the hope kicked out of you and you're entering this holiday season feeling a little hopeless, let me give you a promise from God to hold onto. It's Psalm 91, Verse 15. And God says this to you.

As we end this second year of pandemic, Psalm 91:15: "When you call to me," God says, "I will answer you. I will be with you when you are in trouble. I will save you and honor you". What a verse. That's a good verse to memorize this Christmas season. I will be with you. I will save you. I will honor you. Now, I don't know what's discouraging right now. And I don't know what mess you're in. But God never said this life was going to be easy. He never said life would be a breeze. He never said you won't have any problems. He never said you won't have any pain. Because none of that's true and God can't lie. But what God has said is this: I will be with you. I will be with you. You're never going to go through anything by yourself.

Some of you are going through really tough times right now. But let me just say this. You were never meant to go through life alone. That's why you need a church family. That's why you need to be a part of a small group. If you're not in a small group, what in the world are you waiting on? You were not meant to go through all the pain and problems, suffering in the world, by yourself. There are other people around you who've already gone through what you're going through right now. And they are ready to help you if you'll just be humble enough to accept it. And you can help other people if you'll be humble enough to share where you've had pain.

Now, let me wrap this up by saying this. At Christmas time, which is the time we're getting ready to go into, people are more open to hearing the good news of Jesus Christ of salvation than at any other time of the year. They're more open to invitation to church, to come to a service, than any other time of the year. Something about the end of the year winding down forces us to realize that not all the changes we wanted to make happened. That we don't have it all together. So I want to urge you and every other member of our Saddleback Church family to be ready to share your hope. Ready to share your hope with the people in pain around you this Christmas. They're going to drink at Christmas parties to kind of cover up their pain. But God wants to use you. And the Bible says this. Look at this verse on the screen.

Verse Peter 3:15: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have". That's what we're talking about this weekend. That God is bigger than our pain, bigger than our problems. That gives us hope. The people around you, listen, friends, the people around you, they don't need to hear about your successes. That doesn't help anybody. But they do need to hear how God has helped you in painful situations. Are you willing to share how God used pain to get your attention? Are you willing to be open of about your feelings and your faults and your failures and your frustrations and your fears?

You see, if you're willing to be authentic, you will be amazed at how God will use you to bring hope into the lives of other people. I'll tell you from personal experience, it's the greatest feeling in the world. There's nothing better than feeling being used by God. So here's your homework. I want you to get alone with God this week. And I want you to make a list of what you've learned from pain. Have you learned to depend on God more? Have you learned to trust God's promises? Have you learned to obey God's word? Have you learned that you need other people in your life? Have you learned to listen and not talk so much? Have you learned that you need fellowship?

I could give you a thousand things you can learn from pain. Make a list of things you've learned from pain. Then make a list of people in pain around you. And all I want you to do is begin to pray for them. Just begin to pray for the people in pain and pain in your life. And you know what? Watch how God naturally opens the door for you to have important conversations this holiday season. And then when that time comes and you get the opportunity, get out this outline and review this message and be ready to share to use your pain to help others. I want you to bow with me right now. Would you bow your heads?

And as you do, let me again close with some personal questions. Just think about these with your head bowed. First, has God been trying to get your attention? How has God been trying to get your attention? Well, most likely it's something that's uncomfortable in your life. Are you learning anything from your mistakes? Are you learning to depend on God? Are you learning to obey God's word? Are you learning that you need other people in your life? With your head bowed, will you ask, let me ask you this.

Will you trust God to bring the good out of the bad in your life? Tell him so. God I'm going to trust you to do that. Are you trusting in your own power? Are you trusting in God's power to make changes? And will you, this is the big one, will you allow God to use your mistakes and even your sins to help others? Pray this prayer, would you? With your head bowed just say something like this. It doesn't have to be the exact words. Say, "Dear Father, I need you. I need you right now". Let me pray for you.

Father, I have no doubt that there are people listening right now that are in deep pain. I thank you for bringing them to church this weekend or online. And I'm praying that they will open their lives completely to you, to be healed and to be used.

Now you pray. Say:

God, thank you for loving me. Thank you. Thank you for loving me enough to get my attention. I ask you to bring good out of the bad in my life. Help me to learn the lessons I need to learn. I want to learn to totally depend on you. I want to learn to follow your word and trust your promises and obey your principles so I can become all that you made me to be. And I want you to use me to help others. I'm asking you today, this weekend, I'm asking you to use me to help other peoples. Please give me the hope that I need when I feel hopeless and give me the hope I need to raise the hopes of others. Lord, I'm willing to follow these steps of recovery in taking what I've gone through and sharing it with others. Help me to be honest about my faults and my fears and my frustrations and my failures. Lord, use me to encourage others in the days ahead. Thank you that you've promised no matter what I go through, you'll always be with me.

If you've never opened your life to Christ, say:

Jesus Christ come into my life right now. Heal my hurts. Forgive my sins. Save my soul. Give me a new purpose. In your new name I pray. Amen.

Are you Human?:*