Jesus is speaking to the disciples in Matthew 24 delineating the beginning of birth pangs in the end times. It is debatable as to when the tribulation with take place and how much of it we will be suffering. Clearly we will be suffering and that is not good news. The good news is that we will be taken out or raptured before the wrath of God occurs. There will be pain. But what is the purpose of pain? I believe that there may be several purposes starting with bringing us closer to God. Some may run, but God wants us to stay under the pain until His work in us is finished.
The above purpose of pain also can be maturing, completing in us the perseverance that God intends as James 1:2-4 tells us. “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you come into trials of diverse kinds because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that you will be mature and complete lacking nothing.” Now that is one of the hardest verses in the Bible. God works His purposes for us in the pain. But what I love about it is the next verse, “If anyone lacks wisdom he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed in the wind…the double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways” (James 1:5-8). Now there is a strong purpose of pain, to bring us closer to God, to seek His wisdom in the storm. Perhaps one of my favorite praise songs is Praise Him in the Storm. It tells us that God wipes away our tears and strengthens us as we stumble against the wind. “God is in the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3). Yes, God hears and answers us in our pain as we praise Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). So there is a clear purpose of pain, that we will seek God’s face and wisdom. In other words God is present in our pain. The wonderful devotional, Jesus Calling, reminds of “peace in His presence.” Yes, there can be peace in the pain.
In 2 Corinthians 11:25 Paul speaks of his many sufferings, including being stoned and left for dead outside the city of Corinth. He had preached and no one listened. Then he went back into the city in pain and people listened. We are to preach in our pain. Let your light shine, don’t be afraid and hide it under a bushel.
This testimony of Paul’s also points us to 2 Corinthians 12:9 which tells us, “His power is made perfect in our weakness, when we are weak He is strong.” This is one of the many paradoxes in Christianity; we are made strong in weakness. Another similar verse Philippians 1:21 says, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Well, that makes no sense in worldly terms. We must die to self.
We are to prepare our hearts for God’s purposes in the pain. He has called each of us for a purpose. Mine is to glorify His name as a hospital chaplain. He is preparing me through pain to be an encourager and healer in the storms of life. There is purpose in the process. Yes, God is working out His purposes through us in the pain of our calling. The Pain in the process can make life clear.
God wants for us to have passion in the process, that is passion in the pain of the process. God is continually preparing our hearts in the process of pain for His purpose.
Yes there will be pain and it has a purpose. The process should cause us to pursue His purpose is to prepare us to preach His praise with passion in the pain.