13 Through the furnace of pain

Encouragement for difficult days (13):

“The art of life is the avoiding of pain.”
Thomas Jefferson

At a quick glance, it looks like a wise saying, but I disagree.
None of s likes pain, and we all try our best to avoid it if we can.
It like going to the dentist. We don’t like to go, but if we don’t, chances are that we will come to regret it.
Why did Thomas Jefferson make this statement? Did he avoid pain in his life?
Thomas Jefferson actually paid a great price for America independence.
Our liberty today, no matter which country we live in, has been accomplished by men who were willing to suffer for a just cause.

History itself shows us that human progress can only be made when somebody suffers for that which is true and right.

The deepest pains are not physical, but emotional and spiritual.

“A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”
John 16:21

Jesus used this illustration to explain about His own suffering on this planet.
To bring it down to our level, let me put it like this:
If everybody really lived to avoid pain, nobody would get married and raise a family; yet people do it all the time.
Some times we are willing to suffer (i.e. work) to accomplish something good (a reward). We do it all the time. It is also true that some pain is vitally important to us.
If you and I never felt any pain when something was wrong with our bodies, we would die of neglect.
But for the Christian, pain has much higher ministries.

1. Pain can have a purifying power
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;”
1 Peter 4:1
Being dead to sin inevitably means pain. It is not easy, and sometimes painful to give up the old man for the new. And sometimes, physical pain makes us do different priorities in our lives. And God is always with us through our suffering.

2. Pain can be that of fellowship with Christ
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”
Philippians 3:10
Some people turn away from God when they go through suffering, but it need not be so.
You and I can be drawn closer to God when we are going though the furnace of pain. None of us has experienced all that Jesus experienced on the cross. The unsaved person has no idea of the wonderful joy and peace the believer can experience in his heart even in the midst of constant pain.

3. Pain can bring glory to God
Now, this doesn’t mean that God deliberately makes us suffer just so He can receive glory.
But it does mean that God can use our sufferings to glorify His name.
God was glorified in Jesus’ death and suffering on the cross, and God honored Christ and raised Him from the dead in great glory.

Finally, remember what Paul said in Romans 8:18:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
At the end, it will be worth it all!

Jim Elliot, one of the martyred missionaries of Ecuador, put it like this:
“He is no fool to give what he cannot keep, to gain what he can never lose.”
If we suffer with Christ today, it only means glory with Christ tomorrow.
For the Christian, the best is yet to come!


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