What the Pain Says

1 John 3

I don’t like pain. Who does? It hurts. It’s inconvenient. It puts in me in a bad mood. It slows me down. Pain changes the way I interact with others. It causes me to focus on myself rather than see the needs of the people around me.

People in pain don’t react the same as healthy people.

But there are different kinds of pain. Are you listening? Pain speaks. What does it tell you?

Some pain is good. When I workout, the next day I feel the effects. My muscles are tighter. My endurance is stronger. My strength, greater. And I can feel it. The pain speaks. It tells me I’ve accomplished something. It motivates me to try again. It shows me the limits of my abilities and reminds me I’m capable of more than I imagine.

There’s also the pain that tells you the pot is hot, don’t touch, the pain that reminds you that your body wasn’t designed to do that, and the pain that warns you not to trust that person. Pain speaks. What it says is worth listening to.

You’ve experienced unhealthy pain too. The pain of sickness that indicates your body is failing. The pain of guilt that brings condemnation. The pain inflicted on you because of someone else’s bad decisions. The pain you cause others. The pain that is the consequence of your sinful choices.

The say elephant’s never forget. You’ve heard the story about the baby elephant with the chain around his leg. As a young calf he struggles against the chain. He rubs his leg raw trying to break free. The shackle cuts deep. Eventually he stops fighting. The pain is too great. As the elephant becomes an adult he grows strong enough to break the chain, yet he never tries. Eventually his keeper removes the chain altogether, not to free him, but because the memory of the pain is enough to control him. The elephant doesn’t move. He remains submissive. The shadow of the pain keeps him locked in the prison of his own memory.

God uses pain in our lives to motivate and to move. People use pain to restrict and control.

1 John 3:20-21 says, “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.”

The pain of guilt deceives us into believe God doesn’t care. The pain of circumstances tricks us into choosing the easy way rather than the right way. The pain caused by people convinces us to withdraw, mistrust, manipulate and leave love behind.

But we don’t have to feel this way. God is greater than our feelings. He’s bigger than the guilt, greater than the pain. Because he has forgiven, because he has saved, we can come to God with bold confidence.

Are you listening? Your pain speaks and so does the pain of others. What truth does your pain motive and move you to live? What lies do you believe because of the pain of your past? Is there someone in your life you need to give an extra measure of grace to today because of the pain they’ve been through?

Pain speaks – and God is greater.


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the pain that leads to repentance. Thank you for the pain that shows me the limits of my abilities and that reminds me that I’m capable of more than I imagine. Overcome the pain of guilt in my life. Because of the forgiveness I’ve received through your son I can approach you with confidence, confidence that you love me, want the best for me and that you are greater than my feelings. Today, help me listen. Give me an ear for the pain of others. Show me how I can relieve that pain. Help me give grace to those who need it. Allow me to demonstrate your loving-kindness. As you are greater than the pain of guilt help my love for others be greater than the offenses they can throw my way. Help me love them and serve them in spite of insults or injury. Help me love people the way you do.

I love you, in Jesus name –

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