The Transformative Power of Pain and Suffering | By Jodi Fairclough

Recently, I witnessed a friend experiencing a depth of pain that caused my heart to shatter in sympathy. Her struggle touched a place in me that remembers, all too well, how debilitating and life altering pain can be. Her pain was ugly, unfair, and undeserved. This caused me to revisit my own personal wrestling match with why God allows pain and suffering in the lives of His children. Christian Woman | Christian Living | Grief and Loss

Recently, I witnessed a friend experiencing a depth of pain that caused my heart to shatter in sympathy.

Her struggle touched a place in me that remembers, all too well, how debilitating and life altering pain can be.

Her pain was ugly, unfair, and undeserved.

This caused me to revisit my own personal wrestling match with why God allows pain and suffering in the lives of His children.

In seasons of distress and unadulterated pain, we are desperate to find an enemy to blame for our discomfort.

In seasons of distress we are desperate to find an enemy to blame for our discomfort.Click To Tweet

On some occasions, the provocateur of our pain is easy to identify.

A disease to hate.
An organization to detest.
An individual to rally against.

Other times there is nothing. Nada. Nobody.

Only a thick stench of anger and blame with no wind to blow it away.

It just hovers, infiltrates, and corrupts.

Our bow is drawn and ready to shoot, our satchel is full of fiery arrows, and yet we have no one to target with our anger and outrage.

Where do we aim then? The author of life? The creator of the universe?

If God created all things, He must have had something to do with this deep wound in our soul.

Or, at the very least, He did little to protect us from it.

Recently, I witnessed a friend experiencing a depth of pain that caused my heart to shatter in sympathy. Her struggle touched a place in me that remembers, all too well, how debilitating and life altering pain can be. Her pain was ugly, unfair, and undeserved. This caused me to revisit my own personal wrestling match with why God allows pain and suffering in the lives of His children. Christian Woman | Christian Living | Grief and Loss

Why does God allow pain and suffering?

There’s a chap in the Bible that suffered immensely, and he made sure God knew the extent of his pain and suffering.

Job lost it all.

His family, his wealth, his health.

He was in incredible pain and suffered beyond description, yet the Bible says he was completely blameless before God.

Wow!

I can relate to Job.

To his anguish and grief, to his despair.

I always thought if I loved God and followed His ways, He would bless me, protect me, and come through for me. I believed He would keep me from ALL harm.

And yet, excruciating emotional pain has brought me to the brink of not wanting to live.

And all I can think is…

What loving God would allow me to suffer such pain?

Why did God allow my dreams to die?

My expectations and hopes for the future to whither? My plans to fail?

John 12:24 says, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Life coming from death. For God’s glory. Is it really possible?

Life coming from death. For God's glory. Is it really possible?Click To Tweet

Towards the end of the book of Job (Chapter 38), God speaks. And boy does he put Job in his place.

“Why do you talk so much when you know so little?” Job 38:2

Ouch!

God continues to question Job, ““did you ever tell the sun to rise? and did it obey?”

Um, no.

And finally, in Job 40:1-2, we read ” I am the Lord All-Powerful, but you have argued that I am wrong. Now you must answer me. Job said to the Lord: Who am I to answer you? I did speak once or twice,but never again (CEV).”

Job is humbled.

When faced with the majesty of his Creator, he recognizes how little he truly understands.

Recently, I witnessed a friend experiencing a depth of pain that caused my heart to shatter in sympathy. Her struggle touched a place in me that remembers, all too well, how debilitating and life altering pain can be. Her pain was ugly, unfair, and undeserved. This caused me to revisit my own personal wrestling match with why God allows pain and suffering in the lives of His children. Christian Woman | Christian Living | Grief and Loss

The book of Job displays a man in incredible pain, who wrestled with understanding and reason, and yet…..he did not turn away and curse God.

He wavered.
He got angry
He questioned.

As we we all do in trying to understand our pain – it’s a part of being human.

But God rewarded Job. For his faithfulness. His endurance. His humility.

He blessed him twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).

I am encouraged by Job’s story and I hope you are too.

He is a living testament of the encouragement we find in Galatians 6:9, ““Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Richard Rohr, a wise Franciscan priest, once said, “Pain that is not transformed is transferred.”

Pain that is not transformed is transferred. -Richard RohrClick To Tweet

Let that sink in for a bit.

Unless we face our pain. Process our pain. Allow our pain to transform us from the inside out. We will transfer our pain to another.

A spouse. A child. A stranger.

You know the angry guy at the carpark who flipped you the bird for being too slow last week.

He’s transferring.

And the abusive mother who constantly attacks her kids for being not good enough?

Transferring.

The alcoholic neighbor who won’t get help and is spending his families little income on numbing his heart?

You guessed it. Transferring.

When we allow pain and suffering to reign and rule, it gives birth to bitterness.

When we allow pain and suffering to reign and rule, it gives birth to bitterness.Click To Tweet

And bitterness causes restriction—of our ability to love, of our ability to hope, of our ability to experience joy, and our ability to prosper.

But when we find the strength to look behind the hurtful words and actions, and deep into the hearts hurting people, we see their pain and are filled with compassion.

And compassion is always a good thing.

Recently, I witnessed a friend experiencing a depth of pain that caused my heart to shatter in sympathy. Her struggle touched a place in me that remembers, all too well, how debilitating and life altering pain can be. Her pain was ugly, unfair, and undeserved. This caused me to revisit my own personal wrestling match with why God allows pain and suffering in the lives of His children. Christian Woman | Christian Living | Grief and Loss

5 Truths about Pain and Suffering

  1. Pain will visit us all at some point. Pain is a part of life here on earth. It’s something we all have in common, a soft spot that connects us to one another.
  2. Pain is not evil – it’s just an indicatorPain indicates that there is something that needs attending to. An injustice. An illness. A relationship. A loss. Sometimes the pain is unconscious and a relatively minor setback can inflame a deep seated wound that has been buried.
  3.  Pain wakes us up and causes us to pay attention. It reveals the deep seated beliefs we hold, opens our hearts to others who are hurting, and helps us tune in to the heartbeat of humanity. It wakes us up and urges us to pay attention, to get involved, to help one another.
  4. Pain can serve as a transformational teacher. Pain sat through, acknowledged, held respectfully and then set down, has the ability for much growth and fulfillment. It can enlarge our hearts, create empathy and compassion for all of humanity, and actually cause us to be become better human beings.
  5. Pain breaks down all sorts of barriers. When we have lived through incredible pain, we can soothe another with the “me too” position of our hearts. We become more attentive in our dealings with others, more considerate with our words and actions, more understanding and soft towards people we bump up against. Even when they aren’t soft and considerate toward us!
5 Transformative Truths about Pain and SufferingClick To Tweet

Recently, I witnessed a friend experiencing a depth of pain that caused my heart to shatter in sympathy. Her struggle touched a place in me that remembers, all too well, how debilitating and life altering pain can be. Her pain was ugly, unfair, and undeserved. This caused me to revisit my own personal wrestling match with why God allows pain and suffering in the lives of His children. Christian Woman | Christian Living | Grief and Loss

So courageous ones, like Job, persevere!

Endure.

Let your pain and suffering transform you.

It will bring a depth to your love, a freshness to your life, and a deep connection to others.

When faced with another aching heart attempting to conquer debilitating circumstances, you can slip your arm around their pain and give a reassuring squeeze with the words “me too, me too.”

In the words of Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps, “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.”

Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning. Viktor Frankl, Holocaust SurvivorClick To Tweet

Your pain and suffering can be a catalyst for growth and meaning—if you let it.

And, best of all, pain can bring you closer to God, your almighty lover, comforter and creator.

He has good thoughts towards you and is in the business of bringing beauty out of any circumstance.

Even the painful ones.

How has God used pain and suffering to transform you? I’d love to chat about it in the comments.

–Jodie


Jodie Fairclough is a sometimes teacher, writer, baker, entrepreneur, cafe owner, reader, deep thinker, solid listener but always a God lover. She’s a wife and mother to two grown children and now a mother in-law as well. Jodie loves her church and serving the broken however that may look. Join Jodie for the journey on Instagram.

 


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Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

 
Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life.

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30 thoughts on “The Transformative Power of Pain and Suffering | By Jodi Fairclough

  1. Wow, Jodie. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing this. As someone who suffers from daily pain … sometimes excruciating pain … I can so relate to Job as well. What beautiful reminders and encouragement you share with us though! God gets the glory in the end, and that’s a marvelous thing. Blessings and hugs to you!

    1. Hi Lauren,
      I’m so sorry that pain is still part of your life daily. Hold on! – we walk through the valley, and hold on to him during this time. He sees and absolutely knows all that you endure. Prayers and hugs right back at you xx

  2. Such a beautIful, wise and wonderful story of a journey through pain.

    The sweetness of your compassion tells the story. Pain that is not transformed, is transferred. So true!

    You dream wisdom and truth and courage here.

    Love this and love you!

  3. Thanks for sharing your heart and insights Jodie. Only in Christ can our pain be truly transformed and he is faithful. Love your words xx

    1. That quote has stayed with me the day I first read it. It was a drop the book moment for me too! Processing is not easy, feeling is even harder, but it enables us to let it go eventually.

  4. Wow, that was a powerful and insightful post on pain and suffering. I’ll be thinking about this one all day. The concept of transferring is one that I need to remember more often- when people are act in awful ways, I can have more understanding and compassion if I think about that.

    1. Yes, yes, yes Dawn! Compassion and Empathy! It completely opens our eyes and helps us to see people as they really are.

  5. This was such an uplifting encouragement. I too suffer through daily physical pain with RA AND VASCULITIS autoimmune diseases. The last two years were terrible I felt like job and may still do at times. But the Lord has shown me more mercy than I deserve and let me know I am on new journey for him not as nurse but in other capacities. Not sure of exact place yet but I’m time it will be revealed. I want to be used by him and if my pain helps others find their worth for living and serving Christ that’s what I want to do. I tried sampling with overdosing but he showed me real quick no that’s not what I want out of your love life because that would be what others remembered me for rather than the good I did.

    1. So much love and prayers for you Paige! This journey of pain can make us battle weary at times, but know that he will walk you out of it. x

  6. We will not life in this world without pain — physical, emotional, spiritual. But I am so thankful for the transforming power of pain and how it changes us. Blessings!

  7. my wiser older friend said, yes, hearts break but they heal. and facing the heartbreak goes a long way toward the healing. and i think it points us to set our minds on things above. doesn’t mean I enjoy it! great post – your life and minsitry in your church family is a healing balm, I’m sure.

    1. Thanks Sue, I definitely did not enjoy it and probably fought it for a very long time. (I am a fighter 🙂 ) Thank you for your encouragement. xx

  8. Wow! Thank you, Jodie, for writing this. Beautiful, transparent and powerful.

    “Pain that is not transformed is transferred.” Yep. I have certainly been on the receiving end of this, and I have definitely done my fair share of transferring, as well. (Convicting.)

    I can’t tell you how very much I appreciated this message!
    Thank you for sharing your heart!

    Grace & Truth link up 😉

    1. Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by from the Grace and Truth linkup. Isn’t Jodi’s message here just so timely and necessary? I am so glad she took the time to write her story so we could all be encouraged by her experience.

    2. Thanks Rachel, I think when we let this quote sink in, it really develops an empathy in us for others ( and ourselves) There is always a story behind every behaviour, sometimes we will never know it, and we have to be ok with that, but at least the empathy enables us to still love. Thankyou also for your encouragement, bring vulnerable is risky!

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