Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Friday, April 5 - Our Relationship With Pain

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” — 1 Peter 4:12

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In her devotional book “The Practice of the Presence of Jesus,” author Joni Eareckson Tada writes, “People who regularly run marathons learn to live with pain. They defang pain of its terror by familiarizing themselves with its nuances and distinguishing features. They don’t try to beat pain; instead, they carry it with them, managing and minimizing it the best they can.” These runners realize that pain is part of the process. If you set out to run such a long and grueling race, there is going to be some discomfort involved: cramps, a stitch in the side, stinging lungs, muscle fatigue — it’s all going to be there in some form. And the only way to complete the race is to go through that discomfort and learn how to befriend it and manage it, like Joni said.

Marathons are not for the faint of heart, and neither is the Christian life. Somehow, we’ve been sold this idea that following Jesus automatically removes your suffering and fixes all your problems. We’ve been told that as long as you stick with God, everything will be easily understood and smoothly dealt with. The reality, though, is that sometimes following Jesus takes pain to a whole different level. You are persecuted for what you believe; you are placed in situations that are hard to understand and asked to still have faith; you are still dealing with the same earthly trials as anyone else, yet required to view them in the light of an eternity you cannot physically see.

This is hard. But it’s also part of the process. Peter wrote to the early believers and urged them not to be surprised when tough times came to them “as if something strange were happening.” Instead, he told them to rejoice because they were participating in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:12-13). Don’t be ashamed of it, embrace it (v. 16)! Your God has walked through that suffering already, paving a pathway for you to follow in His steps. He has run this race ahead of you and is cheering you on along the way.

The pain and the struggle are all part of the journey. It’s not something to be avoided but something to be endured and walked through. And James 5:11 states that those who have endured and persevered are to be counted blessed and happy.

I know it’s not easy sometimes to keep a good attitude about the unfortunate and difficult things life throws at us. But we have to put them in perspective and realize that none of those things surprise Jesus. We maybe didn’t see it coming, but He already did and He will give you what you need to survive it. Running from the pain isn’t going to fix anything. The refining will come in the process of learning how to manage it — “defang pain of its terror,” as Joni put it — and figuring out how to move through it.

— Katherine Singer

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