Have you ever been around someone who was hurting with a physical ailment but didn't want to let you know, but you already knew because of how cranky there were? These are people, who feeling their pain, let it affect their disposition and everyone around them is affected. Perhaps it was that painful. Life can indeed be
very painful. Physical aches and pains from a surgical procedure or the fatigue from chemotherapy or radiation treatments can take a devastating toll on the physical and mental psyche of anyone. Additionally, the emotional pain associated with the break-up of a life-long relationship by death or separation is just as bad as any physical ache you could endure. We all face pain and if we continue to live, we will all face more in the future. The answer is not simply to tolerate the pain and live a life of anguish. The solution is to understand why the pain persists and endure it or stop it.
Whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual or any other type of pain, we can determine if those past hurts and pains will propel us forward in life or hold us back from the growth for which those circumstances are designed. As in weightlifting, sometimes the soreness is due to growth but at other times it could be injury. Pain can be good and there is always a purpose in the pain.
The key to enduring the pain is knowing that there is a purpose in the pain. The bad news is that you have to find that purpose, but that's also the good news, because just to search for the purpose yields great returns. Understand that everything that is happening to you right now has a reason of which you may be unaware currently, but will realize later and in some cases, much, much later. That's how providence works. Whether you are a Christian, as I am, and believe that He is providential and orchestrating circumstances for my growth, learning and trust, or if you are an atheist and believe that life is random, in either case the circumstances are impacting us all for learning, correcting and directing our future, not for publicly broadcasting our feelings of anguish about the pain.
Lets take a singular painful event from our past like slavery in the United States. It lasted for 250 years and left an ugly stain on our country, some of which remains today.
However, I listened as a friend, mentor and pastor who is 70 years old, talked to me about a trip he took to South Africa years ago to explain to that country the process for reconciliation of people of different ethnicities, backgrounds and skin color. Why would a country in Africa ask an American pastor to advise them on this issue? Because we have lived it. We have experienced the pain of people degrading the lives of another group of people and in many cases, we've learned how to overcome it. That's what happens when we live with a sense of purpose rather than simply our pain.
The focus on purpose enables us to look at our past and see how to use that event or circumstance for present and future good. Of course it might sound crazy to some to believe that something so painful can have good in it, but in my own personal life I now realize and fully believe that if it had not been for the pain of my past, I could not and would not have learned so many great lessons in life and I am able to help others now because of it.
One of the greatest stories in the bible depicts vividly the life of one who chose to live out of purpose rather than pain. It is the story of Joseph. Joseph had a dream that he would be great one day, but his circumstances at the time weren't anything like "great." His brothers despised him; sold him into slavery and he was eventually imprisoned and charged with rape.
However, Joseph saw each of his circumstances, as dire as they were, as opportunities to fulfill the vision and purpose that he had. He didn't carry bitterness or anger but instead used his circumstances to propel him towards his destiny. In the end he became the number two man in all of Egypt, second only to the king. What a story.
Purpose makes sense of the circumstances of life and changes the outlook on your future because of it. Without purpose one is hopeless and pain is another bad thing in my life with no redeeming aspects, If, however, I know that the pain that I am experiencing or have experienced is productive in its purpose, then I will marvel in how I am being groomed for greatness.
Today, live from your purpose and not from your pain. We all have so much to benefit when each of us does that.