The Value of Pain
by: Lisa and Al Robertson
A phrase we often hear repeated by couples going through a rough patch in their marriage is, “I just can’t take the pain anymore.”
Just so you know, we have known pain — unbearable pain — so we get the temptation to do something radical in an effort to stop the hurting. But is that the best move? Is easing the current anguish really going to lead to ultimate fulfillment? Or does God have another plan in place?
In 2 Corinthians 1, the apostle Paul describes persecutions and other hardships so intense that it felt like a “sentence of death.” He also said that he and his companions “despaired even of life.” His hardships, Paul said, were “far beyond their ability to endure.”
But as Paul explains, their hardship was not without purpose. In fact, bringing about something greater by allowing them to feel the pain was God’s purpose. He knew their suffering was intense, and because the son of God suffered so much, he felt their pain. But, as with Christ’s suffering, theirs was not without a greater good in mind either.
In the case of Paul and his friends, the reason that their suffering was great was to teach them the most valuable lesson of all — that they “might not rely on themselves, but on God who raises the dead.”
What we learn when we learn to trust God instead of ourselves is that ultimate joy and fulfillment can never come from the heart and mind of any person. We are not capable of constructing a worldview for our lives that will lead us to be really fulfilled. We can never find eternal purpose by relying on our own sinful and flawed minds and hearts. We just don’t have it in us. But learning this only comes after suffering because self-reliance is so ingrained in our nature. It is our default position.
We won’t change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. In other words, it has to hurt more to stay where we are than to go where God is trying to lead us.
However, a God who even raises the dead? Now that’s another matter. If this God can create the cosmos with a single word and then raise the dead, then we can be sure that whatever he has to say about how to live our lives can be trusted — far more than we can trust our own limited and flawed thoughts.
So what does this God have to say about our marriage? Your marriage? In short, he says that it is worth allowing him to lead you through the intense suffering of a dysfunctional relationship to one that reflects his glory. In fact, the very reason that you are in such turmoil at this moment might be that he is leading you to a new relationship with your current spouse that (because you don’t see what God sees) is far more rewarding and fulfilling than you ever thought.
We can testify to the truth of this. We were there. In the darkest days of our marriage, after Satan had sowed the ugly seeds of mistrust and betrayal, it would have been easy to “throw in the towel.” That was Satan’s voice.
Fortunately, we heard a louder and more reasonable voice — the voice of the God who raises the dead — who said to us, “Look at the suffering son of mine on the cross. Don’t forget that I am the God of redemption and reconciliation.”
We thank God today that, by the blood of Jesus, he redeemed us from a very broken marriage, reconciled us, and is today using us to bring glory to his name.
And here’s the good news for you. He will do the same for you if you humble yourself before him, recognize that the pain you are feeling is being used by God to do mighty things in your life, and then submit to the urging of God’s Spirit.
Don’t give up.