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From Pain to Passion

December 6, 2010

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5)

My life has been fairly easy.  Relative to the world’s standards, it has been a cakewalk.  I do have wounds, though.  My natural reaction to past pain and the wounds I carry is that I want them to be gone.  I sometimes try to pretend they aren’t there.  Ignoring painful memories is like putting mold in a dark, damp space.  It’s counterproductive.  Other times, I allow painful life-stories to dominate my life.  They begin to drown out the rest of who I am and direct the way I interact with the world.  Usually, I just wish they would go away.

How strange it is that God brings healing through the wounds of Jesus.  He didn’t heal the world through sermons.  He didn’t heal the world through spectacular miracles.  He healed the world through wounds.  This becomes a pattern in the Bible.  Paul boasts in his wounds seeing them as badges of honor.  Wounds are not to be discarded but are rather to be redeemed as far as the Bible is concerned.  Resurrection only comes after the cross. 

We want to get rid of our pain.  God wants to redeem it.  We call it a curse.  God makes it a gift.  Could it be that our pain is the ugly wrapping paper containing an immeasurable gift?  What in the world could pain have to give? 

The answer is passion.  God’s redeeming power turns pain into passion. 

The word passion means “to suffer.”  Our greatest passion comes from our pain.  Finding pleasure in something does not make that object our truest passion.  Until we are willing to sacrifice for something, we have not found passion.  It isn’t what gives us pleasure that truly moves us, it is what bothers and hurts us about the world that God uses to call us to activism.  Stop asking “What do I enjoy?” on your search for passion, and begin to ask “What can’t I stand?”

For pain to turn into passion, we must embrace it as a gift.  I know this sounds illogical.  But, it is our pain that makes us compassionate people.  It is our pain that teaches us the misery life can bring and then motivates us to relieve others of that misery.  If we never knew pain, we would never know love.  Our healing from our pain is not complete until it has turned into passion, and we have learned to use our pain to be motivated to bless others.

Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord in a painful match but refused to give up until he was blessed.  We, too, grapple and wrestle with our past and present struggles and do so believing that God redeems all things – even the parts of life we would just as soon discard.  He makes beauty out of ashes.  Jacob walked with a limp after that day, but he was blessed.  It was a glorious limp, and I believe he wouldn’t have traded it for anything. 

Our pain will leave us with our own scars, but they will be glorious.  Scars aren’t so bad.  Scars mean that we have found healing and redemption, but also that we will never forget.  It is the reminder from our scars that becomes the memento that fuels our need to help others.

The question changes when we embrace pain as a gift.  It changes from “How do I get rid of this pain,” to “God, how will you redeem it?”  It doesn’t mean that we like the pain or the situation that caused it.  It means that we believe the purpose of our life is to dispense the glory of God and the fame of Jesus.  This change means that our life is lived for the namesake of Jesus and not for our own pleasure.  The irony is that, when we cease to live for our own pleasure, we find our greatest joy.  Then, our pain will become passion, our scars will testify, and our healing will be enhanced.

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