Pain steals purpose. It’s the thief of identity, motivation, and community. Pain can lead us to question our friends, give up our dreams, and settle for less than the lives that God has for us.

Chronic Pain

Often, people who have not experienced chronic pain might find it difficult to relate to someone who lives in the constant buzzing, nagging, or debilitating fire of physical pain. Until 2020, that is. While all kinds of pain (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical) are both valid and intertwined, I think most people outside the world of physical limitation found it hard to relate to the wearing away of purpose and hope that many chronic pain sufferers often found themselves in before the events of 2020.

Do We Have Hope?

Now, I think most of us know what it is to wake up to a lingering hope for better times, only to be blasted by a new tragedy. We know what it is to face so much disappointed hope that our shield of self-protection tries to defend us from the onslaught by suffocating our hope, one crisis at a time. We think that if only we don’t hope for anything different, perhaps we could survive this mess until things get better. Except for the past two years, it hasn’t gotten better. Or it barely gets better, only to have the reprieve end up providing a false sense of security before the next upheaval in our lives or world.

Is Pain Stealing Your Purpose?

Whether you’re suffering from mental illness or a chronic disease, pain can steal your purpose. Pain, left unaddressed, will start to consume your hope and corrode your determination. Without hope that our pain will ever become manageable, we slowly begin to believe we cannot survive in any other way except by numbing ourselves to the constant pain we encounter. When we numb ourselves, and our emotions, we end up numbing both the sorrow and the joy. We withdraw and we move forward in an automated fog of directionless activity.

Our Ultimate Hope

We must acknowledge our pain and we must confront it head-on in order to regain the hope that fetters our souls to purpose. Denial leads to drifting, and numbness leads to dissatisfaction. As Christians, our ultimate hope is in the return of Christ, when He will establish a new Kingdom without mourning, death, tears, sorrow, or pain (Revelation 21:4). But we also have a hope for here and now: God can enter into our current pain and change everything. He can restore our purpose, rekindle our identity, give us new names, and redeem our deepest wounds. Our hope is not in the ceasing of pain or the respite of trials, but God’s presence with us in the midst of them.

God wants to meet us in our pain. In fact, He already did. He came to experience pain as one of us, including every kind of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual pain. He knows true suffering, and He died for us so that the bondage to our sin and pain would be broken. Because God is our co-sufferer, we can trust Him in the chaos.

When we spend time with Him, God will turn our greatest tragedies into our greatest triumphs. Even in suffering, God is a God who sees and promises that He will be with us, that our purpose will be to bring His Kingdom hope to the world, and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against us.

Connect with God

Ask God what He wants to say to you about your purpose in pain today. He’s there. He’s listening. He’s waiting. May the God of all hope fill you joy and peace as you overflow with hope into the wailing world around you.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is your pain point today?
  2. Have you lost hope for a better tomorrow?
  3. What purpose do you feel you have amidst your pain?
  4. How does God understanding suffering help you in your pain?
  5. How is God calling you to let Him redeem the narrative you’ve been telling yourself?

Next Steps:

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

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