rebelling against low expectations

The Problem With Finding Purpose in Pain

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I really like being in control.

I always have. I enjoy knowing exactly what is happening, when it is happening, why it is happening, and how I can change it. I know everyone values different things, but I’m pretty sure most people can relate to some extent.

Because of my obsessive (and often sinful) desire for control, there was one question that graced my lips more often than any other.

Why?

Wrestling With “Why”

I hate not understanding because when I don’t understand a situation, I cannot be in control of it.

In the past couple of years while I’ve struggled with multiple health issues, I’ve often wrestled with the question “why.” I hated being in pain that I couldn’t control. I craved making sense of the chaos that was present my life. I longed to see a reason for my suffering. I wanted to understand a purpose in the pain.

I thought that maybe if I understood a purpose behind the hard things I was going through, it would be a little easier to accept the fact the I was not in control. I wanted to make sense of it all so desperately.

Over the time that I have been sick, I have been granted a few glimpses into the purpose that I thought would at least partially solve my discontentment.

Glimpses of Purpose

The Bible is clear that Christians never suffer pain without a purpose.

God works for our ultimate good. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

God also promises that pain prepares us for eternal glory in 2 Corinthians 4:17, which says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

The Bible also sheds light on more specific spiritual reasons why God allows suffering. Romans 5:3-4 says that suffering grows a believer patience, character, and hope.

Though my suffering, I have met some amazing people and have had opportunities to encourage several of them with my own experiences. I could see God working through my own life to touch others, and that is truly a humbling experience. Glimpses of purpose in pain are beautiful.

These nuggets of hope that offer purpose in pain are wonderful. They are a gift and I know that not everyone gets a chance to experience them.

But let me tell you, friends, they make terrible idols.

Only One Thing Can Truly Satisfy

Even if we could see the reason behind all our suffering, it would not satisfy our souls.

The pain might still be too great, unable to be reconciled with the promise of growing in patience or character. Our naturally selfish hearts may override our desire to help others through similar experiences. Hoping for explanations can quickly become an unhealthy obsession, idol, or god in our lives. They are not enough.

Even if we could see the reason behind all our suffering, it would not satisfy our souls. Click To Tweet

I was still discontent. I cared more about my relief than the encouragement of others. I wanted my way instead of God’s.

I thought understanding the reason why I was in pain would satisfy my hurting heart. After seeing some glimpses of purpose behind my suffering, I realized that it would never truly satisfy.

I had to fully surrender myself to trusting the heart of my Father, no matter what. I had to embrace his plan, no matter what pain it brought me. I had to realize that I would never be “okay” with the pain until I was so deeply in love with my Savior that nothing else mattered to me.

Total satisfaction cannot be found in anything or anyone other than the person of Jesus Christ.

This is something I really struggle with on a regular basis. I struggle to be so lost in Jesus that nothing else matters. I struggle to be surrendered to his will. But I know that he will not disappoint me.

I had to embrace his plan, no matter what pain it brought me. I had to realize that I would never be “okay” with the pain until I was so deeply in love with my Savior that nothing else mattered to me. Click To Tweet

My hope in purpose may be broken and misplaced, but my hope in Jesus has a sure foundation that will never be moved.

I will be grateful for the precious glimpses I get of my Father’s heart behind my suffering, but that are no longer be my source of hope.

Jesus promises wisdom to the weak (James 1:5) and a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).

Being obsessed with my Savior’s love for me is so much more satisfying than being obsessed with control and understanding my circumstances.

If you are a believer, you have already trusted Jesus for eternity. Will you trust your Savior with your pain today?


About the author

Alathia Hayes

is a graciously forgiven college sophomore whose broken soul has been mended by the Author of life. She has a passion for helping children and other teens know how much they are loved. When she’s not studying, you will likely find her playing piano, sipping on a cup of coffee, perusing local used book shops, or participating in an epic round of Mario Kart with her brothers.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →

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