We’ve all experienced emotional pain first-hand since we were very young. It’s part of life, part of being human. As we grow older, we begin to see the ways in which our pain has helped us grow, or alerted us to something bigger going on around us. Our God does His most intricate work in the deepest of pain. He uses the messiness in our lives in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Our God is the God of pain, not because he causes it, but because He is ruler over all of it. He can use our darkest secrets, and our most heart-wrenching moments to draw us, and those around us, closer to Him.
Still, we like to pretend it’s not there. We hide behind leadership roles at our church, bible verses, forced smiles. We wonder if people can see that we’re not okay. We fear that someday it will all become too much and someone will notice there’s a crack in our perfect façade. But are we doing ourselves, and our faith a disservice by hiding our pain when we’re in the midst of it?
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control” -2 Timothy 1:7
How often do we sit down with people and make small talk, not daring to ask the hard questions or to share the hard truths. No one wants to admit that they’re struggling with an addiction, or a mental illness, or a broken marriage. But are those not the very things that God uses? Are we just living with these unattainable expectations of what it should look like to be Christians, and real pain and struggle just doesn’t fit the description?
When I look back on the hardest times in my life, it is there that I see Jesus so vividly. It is in the midst of my deepest anxieties, my strongest addictions, and my wildest emotional roller coasters, that I have truly experienced the peace that passes all understanding. Those times are the times in my life that most define grace and redemption for me. So why do we shy away from the very parts of our lives that speak to the goodness and love of our creator? When we hide our own pain, are we missing out on the greatest platform on which to show His grace?
Somehow we have created this idea that to know God is to be perfect. That in order to be close to him and to draw others close to Him, all of the messiness in our lives must be weeded through. And so we hide in shame when we cannot keep it all together. We gather all of our pain to our chest and hold it there so no one can see.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
Can we trust in His power? Can we live in the promise that His grace is sufficient? Because if we can, that leaves us free to just be us; to embrace the mess of being human. To live in the truth that our pain is the greatest example of God’s grace and love. That the addiction that you’ve been struggling with, or the depression, or the loss, or the anger, are arrows pointing right back at Jesus if we choose to let Him use them. Let us live in the truth that our God is in control. That there is no power on this earth that is greater than Him. That He uses every moment of our lives to bring this world closer to Him. Our God is the God of pain, and we are more than conquerors through Him.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:37-39