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Why do we go through pain?

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Recently I lost an esteemed friend of mine; someone I held higher than a brother; someone I considered one of my best friends. At first it felt so heavy and wanted to ask God why, but then I remembered that everything happens for a reason. Instead of asking why it happened, I ended up asking what I should learn from the loss.

We all have lost loved ones; to seasons of life (like the case of my friend in opening paragraph), to death, to betrayal, to gossip, to marriage, to jobs, to distance, to power, to technology, to drugs, to church, to education and to other people or things. You need to drop something in order to gain another one – you cannot accommodate everything or everyone at one go. People will come and go when your purpose together is fulfilled, and you cannot do anything to change this trend.  So if you are still with the same circle of friends you had as a child, you are not growing!

Consider this: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching.  A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8).”

What you choose to do with this loss however determines whether you grow or remain the same. Many people, having gone through so much pain in life, choose to remain numb to everything and thus end up hurting themselves and others. For instance, a man who has been hurt by his girlfriend can easily decide to never trust women again (and vice versa). Or a child who became orphaned at a tender age can easily start believing that there is no pain equal or greater than the loss of parents – such a person cannot harbor feelings of love and/or care.

James1:2-3 says: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Have you imagined how life would be if everything was just smooth, with no bends, bumps and curves in sight? I have been meditating on the challenges life has thrown me this year and have stopped taking the Gospel of pain with a pinch of salt. Pain is good, and problems make life colourful – they make life worth living. Right now, the only regret I have is the memory of days I wasted whining about whispers of close friends, trusted friends walking away, respected people turning their backs on me, or days of laboring in vain.

Today, try and think about how your problems have helped you grow. Sometimes God will take the very thing we are holding on too tightly so we may learn that He is our All in All. God does not like rivals, and anything or anyone that threatens His Sovereignty He will take away. As you reflect on your pain, think about whether they were the things or people you lost had replaced God in your life. Don’t hold on too tightly to anything; let your pain prepare you for greater joy. Remember, we do not go through pain in order to become numb; we go through pain in order to grow.

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