Where is God When it Hurts (Physical Pain)
(2Corinthains 12:7 BBE) And because the revelations were so very great, in order that I might not be overmuch lifted up, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, one sent from Satan to give me pain.
In this series entitled, Where is God When it Hurts, we have already covered, however so lightly, the emotional pain we feel, today we will be covering the physical pain which we all have to endure at times. It is hard to say what type of pain is worse than another, physical pain, emotional pain or spiritual pain. The only thing we all know is that pain hurts. It is real and all we want is for it to stop.
There is one thing I can say for sure that we all have in common is that we have all experienced pain. There are many different types of pain, form the emotional pain that we talked about last week, to the physical pain that we will be talking about today, through the spiritual pain that we will be covering next week. It has been said that pain is our early warning system to avoid the thing that is causing us the pain.
Going back to our scripture verse we see how Paul was no stranger to pain. This “thorn in the flesh that was from satan, was meant by satan to discourage and impede the work that Christ had assigned Paul to do. But instead of allowing it to impede his calling Paul chose to allow God to use this thorn in his flesh to God’s advantage by keeping Paul humble. Paul mentions in his letter to the Philippians how he could without any misleading glory in his own flesh:
(Philippians 3:4-8 KJV) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
So whether this thorn in the flesh that Paul was given was some real physical pain as some think or if it was from the persecution that he constantly received from the Jews, as others think, or if it was from some temptation to sin that still others presume it might be, the fact remains that Paul discovered a truth through it that can benefit us all in whatever pain we are going through and that is that God’s grace is sufficient.
(2Corinthians 12:9 KJV) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2Corinthians 12:10 KJV) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
You can either complain about your pain and let it hinder your calling and give satan the victory or you can discover as Paul did how God can use it to His and to your advantage. In Paul’s case it kept him humble. Notice how he said that he takes pleasure in infirmities, and in reproaches, necessities, in persecutions and in distresses. That is hard to imagine, yet Not only Paul but James tells us the same thing:
(James 1:2 LITV) My brothers count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
What kind of upside down kingdom is this. Counting trials and tribulations joy and taking pleasure in infirmities. Now, I guess I have to go back to my earlier statement that you can either complain about it or be thankful for it. I guess that being thankful for your pain might sound a little crazy but it is better then hating life or just enduring it. Life should be lived to its fullest. Even in pain we need to experience the abundant life that Christ came to give us.
As I was thinking about today’s message I went over in my mind some of the most sever times of physical pain in my life. I remember being young and the first real pain, besides some good old-fashioned spankings, was when I broke my wrist after being pushed of the top of the slide on the playground at school. Then when I was 16 the car accident, which I still experience both physical pain, from glass still being lodged in my head, as well as emotional pain from. Then in my twenty’s I had the privilege of experiencing the excruciating pain of kidney stones. Talk about bringing a grown man to his knees. Then just a few years ago I set myself on fire during a performance.
In every case…. As far as I can remember, the first thing I did was to cry out to God. Now, that just seems like the natural thing for a person to do. But what does a none believer do? Who do thy cry out to? Who do thy seek beyond themselves for help in times of trouble when there is no one else? No one! That is so sad! How sad it must be to not be able to find comfort from the comforter. Remember Jesus told us that He would not leave us without a comforter.
(John 14:16 ASV) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever,
That word for comforter by the way is the Greek work Parakletos which comes form tow words and means strength that comes along side. The Holy Spirit is our comforter. He is the strength that comes along side us and lifts us up when we can no longer go on. When things get so bad that we can’t take it any longer, then God becomes our strength. That is what Paul meant when he said “For when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Unbelievers do not understand this kind of resolve. They do not know from where our strength comes from. I was at first planning on centering today’s message around Job. If anyone ever experienced pain it was Job. Yet through all the emotional and physical pain he worshiped God. We need to hang unto the words he spoke:
(Job 13:15a KJV) Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:
And remember how even his own wife told him to give up and curse God and die…
(Job 2:9) Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
(Job 2:10) But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
We have a great and mighty God who is able beyond our wildest dreams to heal our bodies and bring us peace. And a peace not like this world knows but a peace that is lasting and eternal. Too often we are looking for the quick fix to things and ignore the root cause. In many cases pain is there to remind us that something is wrong. What is the cause of all this pain in the first place? To many people try to blame God or ask how could a loving God allow so much pain and suffering in the world. Well, He really did not want to. We were the ones that decided we would rather do things our won way. We choose to day to not listen to God and his standards. We can set our own standards and they can fluctuate with the seasons. We would rather have complete nihilism then admit that God is right. It was Nietzsche who became preoccupied with empting the world of meaning and truth. As it was when Adam and Eve made the first wrong independent choice of not believing God and trying to find their own truth…. The Bible teaches us that that was really the cause of all the pain…..
But we are not here to point the finger of blame. We are here to reach up to the arms of mercy. God is our loving Father and will not have us suffer for long. Though we may suffer a short time here on earth we can count it joy for we share in the same pain that Christ himself experienced for us. And if we share in His pain then we shall also share in His reward. We have all of eternity ahead of us. This life is but a vapor. A wisp of the wind and it is gone. Soon and very soon we will all be in the presence of the LORD. Seeing Him face to face. As for me I happily face all the pain of today of an eternity with Him tomorrow.
So yes in this world there will be pain and sorrow and tribulation and persecutions and all kinds of trials and tribulations, but you can either let them make you bitter or you can choose to allow God to let them refine you in the fire of afflictions. You can come out shining as silver. Remember the story of how the silver smith knew that the refining was done? The master would put the metal in the fire until when he looked into it He could see his own reflection. Allow God to keep you in the fires of affliction until you reflect the face of the master. As you look up to Him and allow His Holy Spirit to comfort you, you too will be able to say with Paul and James and all the saints. I count it all joy!!!!!