Pain! In our culture, pain is a thing to be avoided. We take medications to avoid pain, entertain ourselves to ignore pain, drink to drown pain, eat to suppress pain, and many other ways of turning away pain. When someone cries in front of us, we find ourselves compelled to tell them it’ll be ok or that there’s a silver lining. When we cry in front of others, we apologize for crying, and sometimes we even apologize just because we brought the conversation “down.”
When divorce hits us, it usually comes one of two ways: our spouse walks away or we do. It can be slow, progressive, sudden, or tumultuous. Still, divorce usually breaks down into one or both people walking away, and often one chooses the path before the other. In that moment and the time that follows, there is pain!
Two became one and to tear that apart is much like an amputee losing a limb! There is pain. There are the nights or mornings when you wake up and forget there is no one in the bed next to you, until you reach for her. There are the times when someone greets you and you realize your other half isn’t there anymore. There are the times when you wonder if you’ll ever survive the loss. And like all loss, that pain will define the rest of your life. More accurately, how you respond to that pain will define who you become, into the rest of your life.
Pain can and will vary from man to man. Some guys will feel relieved by a divorce. Other men feel like a grenade has gone off in their chest. Still, others wrestle with the guilt that comes with divorce. And some are still covering their pain; to the last group, I greatly encourage you to open up and let God work through your pain.
In my own case, I was racked with all of the above. There were pains I tried to cover, a ton of guilt, the grenade-feeling, and even a bit of relief which fed back into the guilt! My marriage had been a silently rough road, and I felt grateful that I didn’t have to deal with any more chaos from my spouse. But that racked me with more guilt because I wanted to suffer! I was willing to suffer to honor God in my vows. And being relieved…boy, that felt like a betrayal of everything I held true!
The first thing I want you to know, though, is that pain has a good purpose! It helps us identify things that are out of sorts, and God is insurmountably good at bringing precise pain to work out His purposes. What do I mean by that? I mean that He is a precision, top-ranking Surgeon! He will come into your life, and He will use pain as a precise scalpel to remove the cancers of sin in your life.
“Dude! I didn’t cheat on my wife! I was a model husband! What the hell does God need to work out in my life?!?” (Yes, I will use some mild language now and again because we’re being honest here. And honestly, this is often what we think! I apologize for any offenses, and I will work to not be flippant with it, but I hope to encourage honest discourse between you and God through this blog, and He doesn’t flinch when you use language.)
I won’t challenge that you were a model husband, but I will challenge that God doesn’t need to work out something in you. God doesn’t waste anyone’s time. Never. Not once! I challenge you to allow God to show you what He is doing, let Him in. I suspect you’ll find that He is pruning an overgrown area of your life. And to whoever you are, I believe I need to leave this verse for you:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” – Matthew 23:27 (though I also encourage you to read all the “Woe”s in the chapter as they reveal many aspect of mankind’s sins that are less than obvious)
Let’s move further, though, because I believe we can go a bit deeper into this reality of pain in our lives. Many of us guys deal with a very clear chunk of pride. What we don’t often realize is that pride takes two forms. The classic form is the “I’m all that and a bag of chips! Look at me!” The lesser-known form is “I’m not even the crumbs on the inside of the bag! I’m trash. I’m crap! I don’t have anything to give to anyone…” Need I go on? This is the flip side of pride, and it is just as sinful and insidious. It betrays the truth of God in your life just as much as the classic form.
God has made you, dear reader, worthy! In Jesus, you are worthy! In Jesus, you are a masterpiece, a beautiful poem, an incredible creation of the Almighty! Don’t betray that by saying you’re not, nor betray it by saying you made yourself what you are. Without God, you’re nothing. But with God, you are His something! Don’t let the devil rob you of that truth!
So, pain. What does all this have to do with pain? Everything, my friend. Pain is what God will use to break down our pride (both forms!). It is what He will use to draw us close to Him, so that He can work in and through us. It is what He will use to identify the effects of sin in your life (that desire for pornography, that feeling that you’re never good enough, the desire for another drink, making work your life, etc.). The list of those effects can go on and on! In our present world, the effects of sin are almost muted by greater effects. Until we are willing to let God in with the scalpel of pain, we may never realize how much cleanup there is. Personally, I found entire aspects of my life that God began to reform, and I had no idea that sin had corrupted me there! I thought I was normal but found that my “normal” was really “heavily polluted” by God’s standard.
My friend, I encourage you to take hold of the time you have. Shut off the TV and turn to your Bible. Close the browser and open up your Bible. Put down the bottle, and pick up your Bible. Work will wait! God should not need to. He’s a gentleman, and He will wait. Still, why would you make the God of the Universe, the only One who ever died for you when you were still beating Him, wait because you want to catch this episode of Big Bang Theory. Why would you choose to continue to pour the World into you rather than letting the Living Water cleanse you?
Please do not misunderstand me! I enjoy a movie now and then. I enjoy some TV shows. I enjoy time with games and with my kids, etc. At the same time, though, I find that as I spend time with God, I don’t really like many shows on TV and some of the movies are less attractive. I find that time with my family becomes better and even more enjoyable. Yet, all of this is facilitated because of God.
“But God…” That phrase has come up a lot this week, and it is true! I would be a filthy wretch, even by society’s standards, but God… I would have lost everything and be doomed to Hell, but God… I would not be qualified (nor would I care to) write this blog, but God… Let God intersect into your world! I encourage you to be on your knees before Him in prayer and submission. Let His pain in, and let Him do His work in you. Let the Creator build His creation, you!
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10
Vires et Honorem!
(I would also encourage you to listen to this powerful sermon from Pastor Ed Taylor at Calvary Chapel Aurora as it is along the same lines as what I’ve written above, and actually inspired much of it, by the Spirit of God: http://ow.ly/3nMZTO )