Saturday February 11, 2006
Profiting From Pain
People rarely think of suffering as profitable. But when facing the difficulty and pain of a valley experience, we mature spiritually. We make discoveries about ourselves when trials peel away any façade we might typically display and instead expose who we truly are. As our life is shaken, we learn what forms our faith: the Scriptures or opinion. Consequently, valley experiences reveal priorities, spiritual crutches, and whether we boast of Christ or our own strength. God’s purpose is to wrench away everything we depend on until nothing competes with Jesus’ reign.
Crutches and bravado are to be replaced by a real dependence upon God. Believers are encouraged to recall that He provides for our needs — “prepare[s] a table before me in the presence of my enemies” — and heals our wounds — “anoint[s] my head with oil” (v. 5). A good shepherd rubbed oil onto the scrapes his sheep received while foraging. In that way, healing began before the animal left the valley floor. As a result of relying on our Shepherd, we experience renewed intimacy and a sense of inner peace that sustains us through the challenge and beyond.
God’s children can profit from pain only by accepting the Father’s work in the valleys. Fighting or crying for a way out gains us nothing. Accepting means asking the Lord two questions: What is Your goal for this time? and How am I to respond? Whatever the Lord’s response, our next step is submitting ourselves and all we have to Him with the knowledge that our valley is really a gateway to His purpose and our profit.
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