Ministering in the Midst of Pain

I’ve been reflecting a lot this past month on the life of Job who, in the world’s, and even his friend’s eyes, seemed to get the raw end of the deal in life. For those of you who don’t know the story, Job was a man who was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). Job was an incredibly rich man and God had blessed him because he feared God. Through the course of the story, Job loses everything except his wife who eventually told Job to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9), she doesn’t sound like a pleasant woman to be around. As Job is aching from sores covering his entire body, his three friends come to console him. However, instead of consoling they continually wage war against his mind in an attempt to discover some hidden sin and reason as to why God was punishing Job this way. Job continues to maintain his innocence until God finally speaks to Job and his friends and asks a series of questions that none of them (or us today) would be able to answer. This past week someone on twitter posted a link to Job 42:2 which is Job’s response to God. Job, who suffered far greater than anyone I know, was able to say:

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel with knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

One of the biggest things I’ve been learning through some trials the past month is to put everything in perspective. God is a good, perfect and loving Father who continues to care for me and guides me when I don’t understand what’s going on in my life. James 4:8 says, “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” and I’ve slowly been discovering that over the past month. God has wonderful ways of getting ones attention, and most often it is through painful situations. Romans 8 is a wonderful chapter that guides us through the process of suffering well. In verse 18 Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” It’s not even worth taking the time to compare! What awaits us in glory will far exceed any trial we will need to face on this earth! Later on in verse 32 Paul says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give him all things.” God isn’t some far off being who doesn’t care about the intricacies of our lives as some people would suggest, rather he is continually involved in weaving together our lives for our good and his glory. And he understands suffering! Mankind would never be able to reach God on our own power, so God came down to us in Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins and now because of that, we can enter into God’s presence with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).

So how can we faithfully minister in the midst of suffering? By “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Continue to keep your eyes on him, until we, with Job, can say, my eyes now see what my ears had once heard.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello Pastor Mike,

    I stumbled on your blog by following links from other bloggers. Though I agree with most of what you wrote here. I also believe that the beauty of human pain, and ministering in the midst of pain doesn’t necessarily means to have the right theology that will sustain us through the trials. I think ministering in the midst of pain is to open the space for crying and cursing. It is to open the space to be hurt and sad. I think that is what the incarnation is, God living among us, but also dying with us.
    I love the book of lamentations because through the whole book the daughter of Zion cries and complains, and even though her accusers do more violence to her (with the right theology, and proofs) the only thing she prays for is for God to see her. And the beauty of God ministering to her pain is that God doesn’t speak at all. God allows her to be in pain and cry. God listens because if he says a word, God’s word would be powerful enough to shut her crying. God letting us suffer and cry, but suffering and crying with us is the most beautiful thing. God could intervene in the midst of our circumstances, but God chooses not to because that would do violence to us as humans. And, that I think is ministering in the midst of pain.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment! I think there are a number of ways to minister in and through pain, and I love the way God uses trials to bring us closer to him and to make us fall even more in love with him, but if I didn’t have the theological backing to intellectually know (despite my heart not feeling) that God was somehow working it out for my good I would be completely discouraged. I’m thankful for Word that I can cling to in times of trial and that it can bring me comfort.

      Reply

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