Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Are There Berries In Your Bucket of Pain?

Pain in life can happen at any time, to anybody, for any reason.  It's part of living.  "Surely not!" we find ourselves proclaiming.  "I'll have a life without it if I do all things right and I live a good Christian life, and I pray, and I go to church."  But, pain happens.  Surely there is no greater pain than the loss of someone we love.  Yet, if we live, we will die.  Why do we try so hard to convince ourselves that we will somehow fool life and skip any pain?
God encourages us that all things will work together for our good if we are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  Be we try to pursue our own purposes and have a life free of any hurt.  God knew we would have hurt, otherwise, why would Jesus have to 'carry our griefs and sorrows' on the cross?
Okay, so we've established this basic fact, that there is pain in life, but why?  And what good could God bring out of it for us?  We imagine everything in life turning out okay and the princess riding off with her Prince Charming to live happily ever after in a beautiful castle in the land of no problems.  God imagines us being changed from glory to glory to become more like Him.  I believe that in the wake of a painful time in life is the prime time for God to change our heart.  It is broken and tenderized.  Beaten like a steak ready for the hot grill.  During the softened time, God can insert things into our heart that we couldn't receive before.  He can show us our faults and short comings, if only we'll take a look.  He will also enlarge our perception of Himself.  How small we are in this vast universe and how we need Him to help us get through.
Joseph in the Old Testament had to have been an individual who felt deep pain.  He was betrayed by his own brothers who sold him as a slave to a foreign people.  He believed he would never see his family again.  He was wrongly accused by Potipher's wife when he wouldn't enter into a sexual encounter with her and was thrown in jail.  He was promised to be remembered by the Pharoah's servant but was forgotten when the servant was freed from jail.  He could have had revenge on all those who had caused him so much pain, but he didn't.  When he became the second in command in all of Egypt and his brothers came begging for help, he forgave and had compassion on them.
Isn't this a perfect picture of Jesus?  Betrayed, wrongly accused, forgotten, abandoned?  But His forgiveness was the key.  "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."  were His words on the cross.
Forgiveness will bear fruit in the garden of our hearts.  It will liberate us to live through the pain, go beyond the tears, wake up to a new day.  But this is something we will need God's grace to do, which He will supply, "His Grace is sufficient"!
Forgiveness are the berries in our buckets of pain.  It is the sweetness that can only come as we release the people and/or circumstances that have caused our pain.  Eat the fruit of forgiveness!