How a person deals with chronic pain is the result of what they are thinking, believing, and desiring in their heart. When I meet with a counselee who deals with this issue, I want to know several things:
One of the first things I may ask about would be their goal in the counseling process. Knowing their ultimate goal in counseling will reveal their heart to me and sometimes to them too. From their answer I will learn if their goal is to remove the pain or to learn how to redeem the pain.
This is a critical piece in ministering to someone because unless the two of us are in the same boat in the counseling process we sure won’t be paddling in the same direction! I have to help my counselee understand that her pain may never get better…it may never go away. I have to help her to see that if that is how it works out, that is a good thing. I can say that because I am confident that we have a sovereign God who is in charge of every aspect of our suffering. He knows the length of it, the intensity of it, if and when it will end, and He knows what He intends to accomplish in it. Additionally, my God will glorify Himself in the midst of it.
This is why I am to help her develop a Christ-centered view of the pain she bears. None of us who are in Christ suffers alone. Jesus presently shares in our sufferings and He endured more than you or I will ever be able to comprehend.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NASB)
Please understand that your pain has a purpose in God’s plan for your life. While you may wonder why God is allowing you to be afflicted this way, you may rest assured that He has a perfect plan for your pain. He intends to use your pain to bring glory and honor to Himself.
according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20 (NASB)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NASB)
God intends to us the pain as a tool to reshape you. He intends to make you more like the Lord Jesus Christ. When Romans 8:28,29 are applied to the chronic pain that some people live with it becomes crystal clear that the “all things” that Paul speaks of literally means all things. Everything! Every single thing! My friend Pastor Bruce Roeder says that “all means all” in this verse.
God is completely in control of all the suffering we will endure. If He were not, we would quickly be crushed by the weight of our sorrow and pain. He allows as much pain as it takes to accomplish the changes He desires to make in your heart. This too demands that you have faith. You must believe that God is in control of the pain and furthermore, you must believe that God’s control is good. His control must be enough for you, despite how you feel about it. Can you accept that truth or do you find yourself balking at that truth? If you do not believe that the pain you live with is for your good, you will fail miserably at glorifying God in it.
Believing God is good while in the midst of chronic pain is not easy, but it most certainly can be done. The Lord promises that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! You must learn to take every thought captive and continue to grow in grace and truth.
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