Finding Joy in a Sea of Pain

Being in pain sucks. It’s as simple as that. You can try to sugarcoat what you’re going through, but at the end of the day, I know you are crawling into bed with a prayer of healing on your lips. After ten years of severe (repeat, severe) migraines, I understand the pleas you’re silently screaming to the Father.

“Lord, please just let me wake up with less pain!”

In most of my blogs, I have written about living a life for the Kingdom and the reality that commitment comes with. I make it clear that living for Jesus (Yeshua) is freeing but also full of trials and tribulations. As we follow in His footsteps, we will be tested, and every part of our flesh will be exposed. Dying to our selves and living for God is a battle, but that doesn’t mean we should measure our faith by the struggles we go through.

After a month of nursing a broken toe, fighting fatigue, and trying to keep a migraine at bay, I’ve been lagging on my time with God, filling my days with mindless scrolling and binge-watching to numb the pain. However, the other morning, I woke up feeling hallow and asked myself, “How do I get back to making God my focus rather than only going to Him to ask for healing?” I’d allowed myself to be comforted by worldly pleasures, but as soon as the episode ended or the final word of the book was read, my despair returned, and I felt empty again.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4

Many of us have memorized the passage above, but have you ever thought about how strange it is that the writer says we should think of trials as pure joy? I don’t know about you, but the tribulations I’ve gone through and am currently facing are not joyful; they’re painful, stressful, and rough. So, how can there be joy in pain?

This week, I went in search of answers and found a few revelations while reading Lecrae’s devotional, Restoration. On day one, he writes, “While pain and suffering are essential ingredients to growth and maturity in our faith, we should be careful to avoid boiling Christianity down to a suffering existence. Instead of interpreting our faith through the lens of suffering, we are encouraged to look at our suffering through the lens of faith. When we experience hardship, and see the brokenness of our world’s systems, we are encouraged to consider it joy. As citizens of God’s kingdom, these things should serve as reminders our hope is beyond fulfillment in this world—our hope is in Christ! This hope made fully mature in us has the power to change the world” (emphasis added)

Without hope, who are we? Without Yeshua, what hope do we have? Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I know I’m not the only one who struggles with their spiritual strength when they’re physically weak, but, over the last few days, I’ve been asking myself why that happens. Why does my faith feel weak when my energy is low, or the pain is too much to bear? I think part of the answer can be found in what I’m filling my days with, while the other part has to do with where I’m putting my hope. I know for me, opening the Bible is so much more work than turning on Netflix or reading a book when I’m not feeling well. I often make the excuse that I want to be in the right headspace to retain what I’m reading in the Word, but the truth is that it’s easier to temporarily numb how I’m feeling rather than breaking the barrier that’s separating me from God.

There will always be days where we feel beaten down, but they don’t have to get the better of us. Our faith should not be categorized by what is going on in our lives. While we live in this world, we are not to look at our circumstances through a worldly gaze. (I’m preaching to myself here) Sure, it’s not easy to look at the positive when your head is screaming in pain; but we have a choice, do we choose to take the wide road, finding comfort in temporary reprieves, or will we lean on God and ask Him for the comfort spoken about in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort”

As I’ve been reading Lecrae’s devotional, studying the Word, spending time with God, and making a choice to shift my focus whenever I start to lean into the temptation of entertainment and social media, I’ve found that my pain has decreased and I no longer feel empty and weighed down. The first step is always the hardest, but once we take it, change follows! It is important to listen to what our bodies need and take care of them, but there comes a time when we have to take authority and redirect our attention to the Father, away from the feelings of our flesh.

Yeshua is our comforter, healer, teacher, and encourager; if you’re feeling depressed or overcome by pain, there is hope. Joy during tribulation can only be found through Him, and if you want to break free of the bondage you are feeling trapped in, I’m here to tell you that it is possible! Being in pain sucks, but it doesn’t have to control the strength of our faith.

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