Purpose in the Pain

Purpose in the Pain

There are a few stories in the Bible that have always resonated with me, but none more than the story of Joseph of the old testament [Genesis] and the Samaritan Woman at the well in John Chapter 4. Joseph endured pain, betrayal, and countless hardships, but his story was far from over. His story ended when he faced his brothers after 22 years- those who were among the first to betray him [by selling him into slavery]… you know what he did?!… he forgave them. Illustrating what his brothers intended to harm him, God used for good. Because of Joseph’s past… he was in a position to help not only his family [remember those gem’s who once sold him into slavery] but the entire country survived a devastating famine. If you haven’t read the story… I HIGHLY recommend it! Honestly some parts of the old testament are super difficult to read, but the story of Joseph is written like your great Auntie’s favorite daytime soaps [short for soap operas… the classic daytime tv show of choice of women who may or may not have plastic covers on their couches and wear highly fashionable moo-moos. The Kardashian’s of the 80’s and 90’s if you will. No shame if you watch them, love them or even binge them.. I get it! And moo-moos… they should seriously be a staple in all wardrobes- comfy and practical.] And the women at the well…. well, she was a woman with a past.  A slew of bad decisions haunting her. Like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but instead of shopping bags she would have had a large jug for water and a very different version of fishnets. A woman who felt shame, pain, regret and heartache. And after Jesus enters, her story becomes one of love, truth, redemption and acceptance. And because of her pain and redemption she helped spread the news of the messiah, the living water, who had come to save the world. [I also HIGHLY recommend reading that story… less drama than Pretty Woman… but it is a captivating story and is ridiculously applicable to anyone who has done anything in their past they are not super proud of… one of the greatest redemption stories!] 

You see our worth is determined by God, not our past, our pain, our families or society. God has called us to make a difference in the world and will use our past, our story, our testimony to illustrate His love and grace for us to others.  Remember God has our lives planned out, nothing is by coincidence. God may allow us to walk through seasons of pain, heartache, shame or regret, but he will never leave our side and he will use those to reach others who may walk through similar valleys.  One of my greatest mentors once shared a quote with me from CH Spurgeon that is always floating around in my head whenever I face trials of any kind. CH Suprgeon said "The refiner is never very far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire."  [CH Suprgeon was a super Victorian, Baptist minister, who was known as the “Prince of Preachers”- his writings and ideas are still widely used today]. We are so worthy. We are like gold. We may be in the fire [you know the thick of it… the trials… the heartache… the pain] but we will not be consumed, we will be refined… Each valley will make us stronger… and the beauty is that our refiner… our Father God… is always close by. He will never ever leave us or forsake us. And through each time of “refinement” or each valley, we will overcome- and the pain we endured… it will be used for a purpose. 

In his book “The Purpose Driven Life", Pastor Rick Warren wrote that “we are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners to it.” I truly believe that what happened in our past, happened for a true purpose. Our past, our experiences, however painful they may be- modeled us and shaped us into the person we are today.  I always try to bite my tongue when I catch myself using the word “regret”. It’s such a fine line to walk- because there are things from my past that I am not proud of- but I know that if I didn’t have those experiences- experiences that may make me shake my head and cringe… I would not be the strong, independent, mildly confident, “Girl Wash Your Face”, version of myself that I am today. [If you have not read “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be” by Rachel Holis… you should definitely add it to your Amazon wishlist!]

Now if you have been following along on this journey with me you will know that I am such a fangirl of Pastor Steven Furtick [haha that is such a funny sentence, such a far cry from the “musicians” I was obsessed with during my college days].  In his “Dig Until God Does” sermon, he made a statement that has stuck with me. He said “The same comfort with which God is comforting you through this crisis in your life - is going to be the same comfort you are going to give to others when you get to your place of service. The same lessons you're learning through this breaking season are going to be the   same lessons that turn into blessings for the people you help when you get through it.” 

This was like an auditory explanation mark! As if God was showing me [although he has made this abundantly clear time and time again] there is a purpose for the pain I experienced. We do not need to be prisoners of our past, but we can use our past to help others who may be walking a similar journey. When I was struggling with my health in 2018 I began reading devotionals, books, blogs that focused on exactly what I was dealing with. Literally searching devotions about pain, suffering, illness, doubt, anger… and in those pages I found comfort, I found hope,  andI found others who went through often worse experiences. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and I realized… that the painful experience that I was dealing with wouldn’t define me. It reminded me that my past wouldn’t define me! It was through the pages of those books and articles God used someone else’s valley to speak directly to me.  One of the devotionals that impacted me the most was a small little booklet from Our Daily Bread Ministries, titled Hope & Strength in Times of Illness. And it was the pain I endured after losing my dad that pushed me to start Saved By Grace and to share my story with the world [or the 10 people who read my blogs each week]. Besides the grace and peace of God, listening to others stories helped me get through some of the hardest times of my life, and now it is my mission to try to use my past experiences to help others! Just like Joseph and the woman at the well; my story has regret, betrayal, heartache and pain; and it also has…forgiveness, grace, and true faith. Through the pain I have found my truest purpose. It doesn’t matter how your story began, what matters is if you can find purpose through the pain, because true treasure is found when Jesus enters your story.  

*Here is one if my favorite verses from the story of Joseph: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”- Genesis 50:20

*I mentioned some books, devotionals and authors- here is a list if you are interested in adding to your collection!

  • “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
  • “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be” by Rachel Holis
  • Hope & Strength in Time if Illness by Our Daily Bread [you can find this 20 day devotional plan on the Daily Bread Website but also in the Bible App’s devotionals

* Other Devotionals that I did not mention but helped me immensely that I highly recommend:

  • Jesus Calling by Sarah Young 
  • Jesus Always by Sarah Young
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