Sunday school lesson – August 16, 2020

The Other Side of Pain

  • Pain is common to the human experience. Joe was leaving a grocery store when he was held-up by an armed gunman and shot three times. The only way he could pay his hospital bills was to sell his house and car. He had lost his job and was now begging for bus fare to look for one.

Discussion: How can you help the “Joes” of this community?

  • Cindy has just gone through a divorce. Her guilt is consuming her, but the greatest indignity came when her husband said, “I never really loved you anyway.”

Discussion: How can you help Cindy during this time. There are those people in the Caledonia-Kolola community that are going through this now.

  • Mary is intellectually disabled and the only person caring for her is her mother. Mary’s mother just died of cancer. She told me, “I just can’t stop crying.” That is pain.

Discussion: How can you help that neighbor who is Mary in your community?

As a minister— I see pain every day. I have seen how much it hurts to lose employment, I’ve have watched one’s home burn, and I have seen and worked with death frequently. It’s tough! Pain comes in all forms— physically, emotionally, and spiritually— and it often has debilitating effects upon us. It has a way of coloring life. At times, the load seems too great to bear, and we lose our desire to try.

Pain has another side. We may not always see it or even want to see it. It is not always negative. In Christ there is a redemptive value to pain. In Clyde Reed’s book, “Celebrate the Temporary”, he wrote the following:

“One of the most common obstacles to celebrating life fully is our avoidance of pain. We dread pain— we would do anything to avoid it. Our culture reinforces our avoidance pain by assuring us we can live a painless life. Advertisements can start by encouraging us to believe that life can be pain free, but life without pain is a myth— this is an unmistakable, clear, unalterable fact. Many of us do not realize that pain and joy run together. When we cut ourselves off from pain, we have unwittingly cut ourselves off from joy as well.”

Yes, the experience of pain in life prepares us for a productive and meaningful relationship with God. The pain in David’s life came because of unbridled passion. He felt defiled, dirty, and cut off from God. “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Brokenness compels us to look to the Lord and depend upon Him. God’s power is made evident in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), so that brokenness becomes the crucible out of which comes yieldedness. Every man and woman of God has experienced such brokenness.

For Abraham, it was an altar; for Moses it was the wilderness; for Elijah, it was a wicked queen; For Paul, it was a thorn in the flesh; and for Jesus, it was a cross.

Yes, it is through pain that we are prepared to comfort and minister to others. Paul say that the God of all my comfort “comforts us in our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.” God has a unique way of bringing others into our lives to whom we can minister in special ways only because of our experiences.

It is possible that the pain you are experiencing right now is God’s way of preparing you to minister to people in the future who have the same pain. I have seen this work out many times in the ministry. When the time comes for you to minister to others, based on your pain, just say “yes” to God and always be available.

— Thoughts from Pulpit Helps, 1992

— Thoughts from Bro. Don