In the Bible, we see a guy named Paul who hated Christians. That is, until he became one.
It’s a pretty interesting story if you’d like to check it out. This same Paul wrote a lot of stuff that we still have record of.
Since that time, much of his writings not only got people’s attention, they caused them to furrow their brow out of confusion and/or anger.
Okay just wondering, by chance did you just furrow your brow as you read that? Me too.
One of the things that my man Paul communicated which makes people furrow their brow and maybe turn their mouth sideways (I won’t even ask) is when he said, “I rejoice in my sufferings.”
What a thing to say? If someone said that to most of us, we’d probably think they were one taco short of a combination plate.
Why in the world would he rejoice in sufferings? If you’re like me, you realize this is an important question because, about 2000 years after Paul wrote this, most of us can relate very well to suffering.
Some of our suffering is big, some is small but we will all have to wrestle with suffering at different points in our lives.
Sure, maybe not as much as Paul. After all, he wrote this from prison and the stuff he dealt with was no less than astonishing.
Again, if you haven’t read his story, it’s pretty incredible. (Okay, for effect, read this next line slowly while looking up and off to the left and rubbing your chin) – But why “rejoice” in suffering?
Good question, I’m glad you asked.
Imagine that you are hanging out with a friend. And this is the type of friend that just likes messin’ with ya. Like, if you walk into their house, you walk in on guard because you know that they might jump out to scare you.
As you are walking, say to a monster truck rally, you feel the hardest slap to your back that you’ve ever felt. It is the type of slap you thought could only be made by someone with the strength and hand size of Shaquille O’Neal. You scream out – “HEEEEYYYYYY!”
Okay real quick – what do you feel (besides pain)? Angry? Frustrated? Confused? Like giving them a papercut and pouring a mixed cocktail of lemon juice, tabasco sauce and jalapeno juice on it? I get it.
But, now pause and let me ask you – do you feel like rejoicing??? No, you don’t…neither would I. It wouldn’t make sense to.
But now, as you look at your friend and ponder their demise (again, looking up slowly to the left while rubbing your chin), imagine your friend points to the ground and says, “you had a black widow on your back.” Dig this – the pain is the exact same! Only now, there is a purpose behind the pain.
Do you realize that you would go from angry to thankful in the snap of a finger? Here is what I want you to hear. One big reason Paul could say that he rejoiced in his sufferings was because of the great purpose behind his pain.
Now, not for a second, will I minimize pain. Many have a greater pain beyond anything I could fathom. Additionally, I’m not saying that thankfulness will replace pain. What I am saying is that, through purpose, thankfulness can actually partner with your pain and everything changes when it does.
Let me close with this, there was someone that Paul followed…someone who I also seek to follow, I believe He can bring purpose behind your pain.
This person is Jesus and He actually knew quite a bit about having to walk through pain. In fact, two of the purposes behind His pain are you and me. I ask you – what if it’s true?
What if this Jesus could really bring purpose behind your pain? What if, somehow, He could bring about rejoicing in something you wish never happened?
Don’t you think that it might be worth looking into? I say go for it.
After all, haven’t you furrowed your brow, looked up and rubbed your chin long enough?
By Ray Miranda • Lead pastor of The STORY Church