Tony Evans — The Purpose of Pain
God is able to take your mess and make it a miracle.
God is able to take your lemons and make 'em lemonade.
God is able to take your bad and make it better.
God is able to turn your yesterdays into a better tomorrow.
It's one thing to have pain. It's a whole different ball game to have pain with a purpose. All of us at one time or another are hurting, financially, circumstantially, relationally, physically. It comes in all shapes and sizes. But when you can add purpose to pain, then you're not in pain for no reason at all.
Paul the apostle knew what pain was, and he describes, you can have pain with a purpose. He almost died, and God was using it for his own purposes. You may be going through right now, but God has a word of hope for you from His Word. Let's get right to it, so we can show you there's purpose in your pain.
In corinthians, Paul wants to tell you the Truth. First of all, let's let the Apostle Paul establish the fact. The fact is life can be painful. That's fact. And all the spiritual serendipities, all the nuances of celebrating all that God is does not change the reality that life can be painful. Jesus said, In this world, you will have trouble.
Sin has so made its mark on society that its repercussions are felt, some because they're caused by us, some because they're done to us by somebody else. All of it hurts. A mere perusal of the passage lets us know how real this is.
Notice, in verse, "He comforts us in our affliction." the end of verse, "In any affliction." The beginning of verse, "If we are afflicted--" the middle of verse, "Sharers of our suffering--" the middle of verse, "We do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction--" verse, "Indeed, we had the sentence of death."
I get the impression Paul is in a painful situation, and he's not by himself. He says, "Our affliction. It's not just me. It's my associates and it's even the Church of Corinth." I can walk up and down the aisles today and we would be faked out by the facade; the look, the dress, the plastic smiles which gives the impression that all is well.
God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. And while it would be a true statement, because after all, we're christians and that's what we're supposed to say.
If we could take off the jacket and remove the makeup and unhook the weave it would become inextricably clear that sometimes life hurts. And maybe you've just come out of it, maybe you're in it, or maybe you're headed towards it, but the reality is, there is affliction.
What's interesting about this passage is that the Apostle Paul is speaking, and there is no debate that he is probably the most spiritual christian who's ever lived. He is head and shoulders above anyone else when it comes to declaring the faith, representing the faith, and suffering for the faith. His own descriptions of everything that he went through as a follower of Christ is daunting. It's hard to conceive that one man could go through so much, but he did.
Some would have you think, "If I'm following jesus and I'm serving jesus and I'm loving jesus, I'm not supposed to hurt." a lot of Paul's pain was because he was following Jesus, because he was living for Jesus, because he was a visible, verbal follower of Christ and not a secret agent representative.
It was in the midst of his faith and function in accordance with that faced faith that often was the cause of his pain. Yes, there is pain because of disobedience. When we sin, we hurt, because it has consequences. But there can also be pain because of your obedience. So let's get something straight before we go any further; life can hurt.
Okay, life can hurt. People die. People get sick. I've tried to track him down, and I couldn't find him. I dialed his number, and it was off the hook. I cried out and there was no answer. You wouldn't be alone.
Job, he said, "I looked north, and I couldn't find you. I went south, and I couldn't find you. I looked east and west. I looked everywhere for you, God," Job says in Job. And he says, "And I could not find you," and the Bible tells us job was a Righteous Man. So don't be lied to. Life hurts.
Different levels, different times, different strokes for different folks, but it can hurt. And you do cry sometimes, no matter how much you love Jesus. So the bad news, if I can call it that, the bad news is affliction. Paul said it got so bad, it hurt so much, it got so deep.