Pain in this life up until heaven is inevitable. When times are good it’s easy to forget that and instead expect life to be pain-free. Then, God becomes the bad guy.
Job and Jonah learned this but in different ways. Job had an exceptionally good life, then he lost nearly everything, then he regained happy circumstances. He knew what it is like to see painfully dramatic shifts in his fortune.
Jonah’s life was average; he was neither rich nor poor. But at least he had a relationship with God; he knew God’s forgiveness. Yet, he apparently didn’t remember what it was like to be a recipient of God’s mercy. Or, at least he didn’t want to see people, who he thought didn’t deserve it, be given the opportunity to receive it.
At the end of Jonah (chapter 4), God demonstrates to Jonah the value of caring about others who are less fortunate. Jonah is sensitive to God’s blessing (the plant) the God’s removal of blessing (the plant dying). It’s normal to be sensitive, but God wants us to learn how to distribute our concern equally between ourselves and others.
Some people are overly concerned about themselves to the neglect of others. While some others focus too much on others’ needs, ignoring their own needs.
When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain required to change, you become sufficiently motivated to grow. If you’re blocking the pain, you’re holding back your growth. If you’re experiencing more pain than you can handle, you’re too isolated from love.
To be able to tolerate life’s misfortunes, you need God. God is love; only He can cause pain to become relatively insignificant when compared with our futures in heaven (Romans 8:18).
I believe Peter was speaking from his experience of denying Christ (John 18:17, 25–27) and being reaffirmed as a chosen disciple when he wrote this verse:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.1 Peter 5:10 ESV
1. Restoring Minimizes Pain
Restore means to return to a former condition, place, or position. God wants you to have what you have lost. This doesn’t mean you will receive exactly the same as what you lost (Job didn’t). But God wants you to move forward according to the plans He has for you.
2. Confirming Minimizes Pain
Confirm means to make it publicly valid. What happens in your life should be relevant to other people in your life. We celebrate and mourn together, not alone.
3. Strengthening Minimizes Pain
Strengthen means to support, increase, and reinforce. If you are going to move beyond pain, you need God’s strength. Pay attention to how God is developing your ability to complete His plans.
4. Establishing Minimizes Pain
Establish means to achieve permanent acceptance. When God establishes you, He does not have plans for you to run away (like Jonah). He is appointing you to accomplish His work.
Notice the progression. Restore and confirm recover what was lost. God wants to heal you. But strengthen and establish go beyond the unimaginable. When God establishes you, you’re permanently accepted. God has called you to eternal glory. You can’t get more permanently accepted than that.
God does all of this because He cares. Whenever you experience suffering, you always have a choice to turn away from God or to turn toward God. Peter experienced God restoring, confirming, strengthening, and establishing him (John 21:15-17). You can, too!
Read more about pain.
Image by Alexa from Pixabay
Last updated September 18, 2022
It’s kinda hard to know what people mean by their growth. What are they satisfied with? What if there aren’t people to confirm and strengthen? Christians seem to hold a distance when they think you have spiritual trouble. This isn’t helpful at all. I’m not trying to fake anything. People talk about authentic Christian community but I feel that groups require that you are either good enough or popular enough or interesting enough or you have been given a social stamp of approval. Doesn’t seem like Job or Jonah had much people support when things were down.
When I was a teenager I loved church. Of course, teens are important so you have youth pastors. I liked everything from studying to singing to service to trips- I went to a lot of churches so it wasn’t just one. I must have been delusional because the sense of belonging was intense. I was a teenage girl and the youth pastor and his wife never made me feel uncomfortable because I was single or had family problems. So is it youth and their potential? My youth pastor never would have shunned me. None of their wives ignored me. Church isn’t working for me like I need it to. That sounds totally selfish but I’m too demoralized from life and work and trying to cope all week—there are only so many jobs in a church & I can’t sing, nobody thinks I can hold a baby properly, I don’t Cook or make crafts. So what I find most painful is just people and not feelings close to people. If it wasn’t wrong I wouldn’t go at all because it is superficial and I could watch people talking on TV. I’m friendly to people but I need friendship. I’m with Job, I’m will trust Him even if He slays me. I feel like a lot of my life has been wasted so unless I’m gonna live another 50 years and be healthy it is hard to see how things are restored in this life. Lots of people in the Bible died without seeing any promises. Most in fact.