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Minimizing our Pain/Maximizing its Benefits: Part 3 Joy Despite Pain

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Pain doesn’t have to destroy or debilitate us. As I said 2 weeks ago I’ve discovered three wonderful truths about pain. I covered the first 2 truths in the previous blogs:

Pain doesn’t have to be wasted and it can be minimized.

Now onto my favorite—joy despite the presence of pain. I’ve written about this many times before and I don’t want to sound like a broken record but….

There are too many joyless Christians running around making the precious gospel unattractive that I must speak up once again!

So how can we get this joy in such a painful world?

1. We need a new perspective about pain.

We find it hard to believe that a loving and good God would allow so much pain and suffering in our lives. It goes against the grain of what most of us think and want. However, as Carol Truhan—a woman very familiar with pain—says:

“Does love permit pain? Did God the Father love His Son? Did He allow Him to suffer pain? How much pain? The greatest suffering, the greatest pain ever inflicted was where the greatest love was ever shown. We need to get out of our Americanized minds that infinite love won’t allow us to go through pain. That is false!”*

2. Believe that joy and pain can coexist.

I used to think joy was supposed to replace the pain. But that was wrong thinking too. After losing my soul mate to cancer I have proven that it is possible!

3. Abide in Christ

The only way for pain and joy to coexist in your life is to live in Christ.

Joy is a byproduct of being and remaining in a right relationship with God. It shouldn’t be the goal!

As we abide in Christ and His Word, the outcome will be His joy, peace, etc. (Jn 15, Gal 5:22-23). His joy will be our joy!

4. Focus on God and others, not self

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:2-3)

While Jesus was hanging on the cross, He was thinking about the joy of rescuing mankind from hell to heaven to spend eternity with Him.

I have found that focusing on God is the only solution in times of heartache. He has always rescued me from the pit of despair and “put a new song in my mouth” (Ps 40:1-3). 

5. Develop an eternal perspective

Without the promise of a much better future, I would have given up a long time ago. Great rewards await those who serve God wholeheartedly.

Think about all ways God will use this pain to benefit you and others eternally. If your pain could save a soul from hell, wouldn’t it be worth it to you? Jesus thought you were worth it. Sacrifice is always painful, but it’s never for naught if you’re doing it for the Lord!

In fact, by cooperating with God, we can increase our heavenly reward. That puts a smile on my face, a spring in my step, and an oomph in my pressing on—even in the midst of suffering.

Until next time, my friends, remember the words of Peter:

In this [our eternal inheritance] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. (1 Pet 1:6-8)

 

*From a Ladies Prayer Advance

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Enjoying Foretastes of Heaven NOW

I can’t wait til heaven! I am so sick of all this mess!

I hear that a lot. I even say it a bunch myself. And we are to have an eternal perspective, looking to Jesus. Meanwhile, is there no joy here? Is it just one constant trial after another with no reprieve, no end in sight until heaven? Are we to live in a constant state of discontentment while waiting for Jesus’ return? NO!!!

I see way too many Christians living like that though—just enduring this life with stinking thinking. That’s not making the Gospel attractive to a hurting world. It’s not what Jesus promised either.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)*

I propose that we can experience snippets of heaven, foretastes if you will, TODAY!

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Ps 16:11)**

These are not future pleasures only, but available this very moment, even in the midst of a trial. It’s the feeling and sensing that I talked about in my recent blog Increased Capacity: The Wonderful Cycle of Knowing God.

As we abide in Christ and His Word, the outcome will be His joy, peace, etc. (Jn 15, Gal 5:22-23). As believers, Christ dwells within us. If He is ruling over our hearts as the rightful King, then His joy is also ours. We do not have to wait until heaven. We can have it NOW. That’s good news for us impatient types!

This type of joy gives us strength and hope. That old song “The Joy of the Lord Will Be My Strength” used to baffle me. But having suffered many trials, I now understand. The only thing that got me through those difficult times was Christ. Abiding in Him not only gave me strength, wisdom, comfort—whatever I needed in the moment, but also joy.

When He met my need I sensed His love and care. That brought me joy, even when He did not remove the problem. God never promised He’d eliminate difficulties; only that He’d be there with His all-sufficient grace (2 Cor 12:7-10)

Experiencing the joy of the Lord keeps me going, helps me to endure and persevere, and gives me the hope of a better future.

That is available for you as well! Be thankful for His presence; enjoy all He has to give you now.  Keep yourself in a position to receive by remaining in the Vine. A much better time is coming, but let’s rejoice now as well as then. That’s making the Gospel appealing to a lost world!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)***

 

 

*New King James Version (NKJV) Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

**New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

***The Holy Bible: New International Version®. NIV. ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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