by Darla Lauterbach-Reeves—
We learn from pain. Some of us learn more than others and some more quickly than others, but we all do learn in some form. If not, we wouldn’t be careful around hot stoves or warn our kids not to touch them. We usually have to experience enough pain to change anything about ourselves or what we do. Physical pain brought on by our actions makes us more careful. You’ll more than likely avoid that coffee table corner after stubbing your toe on it or that person after being hurt over and over.
Pain we witness in others makes us more careful too. “Wow, that could be me!” It can make us think twice. Hopefully, we learn this way too. Pain brought upon us by others makes us mad. We didn’t want this pain. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t even make the mistake that caused it. Still, there is so much to learn from this anger and frustration. There’s always something to learn.
As unpleasant as pain is, imagine what life would be like without pain receptors. The only way to know if we were hurt would be to see bones or blood. So thank God for pain receptors! How would we live day to day without them? Extremely timidly, constantly hurt, and continually supervised.
If we learn from pain, it makes sense that the wisest people we know have experienced the most of it. They haven’t just been through it, they’ve allowed themselves to feel it. They’ve gone there, they’ve grieved, they’ve felt and expressed the pain rather than avoiding it or covering it up. They’ve taken it to God. They’ve owned their part and they’ve changed because of it.
The pain of divorce may lead some to fight for marriage, while others blame marriage itself and refuse to even consider it again. The pain of co-parenting may lead some to surrender and embrace, while others vengefully fight the rest of their lives. The pain of betrayal may lead some to a deeper intimacy with Jesus and others to deem it foolish to trust anyone again or to become untrustworthy themselves. The pain of failed relationships may lead some to a deeper appreciation of the one who’s different or to write them off altogether. The pain of family disapproval may lead to a deeper reliance on God or a life lived to please others.
Are you being crushed? All of these experiences are painful, but it is in the crushing that the sweet aroma is produced. Grapes and olives must be crushed to make wine and oil; so it is with us. The deeper the crushing, the more pure the outcome.
Have you seen the joy and laughter people get from stomping grapes with their bare feet? That’s how I imagine the devil looks while we are being trampled on; he thinks he’s doing us in. But the trampling leads to something so beautiful in the transformation that is only made possible by the crushing. I don’t recommend looking for pain. But I do recommend gleaning whatever wisdom you can from it, looking for the blessings during it, and remaining thankful in spite of it. There is always something to be thankful for. He’s always there and He knows how you feel. He may have allowed it, but He hasn’t forsaken you because of it.
“The Lord says, ‘It was my plan to crush him and cause him to suffer. I made his life an offering to pay for sin. But he will see all his children after him. In fact, he will continue to live. My plan will be brought about through him’”(Isaiah 53:10, NIRV).
Jesus wasn’t just crucified for us—He was physically, emotionally, and spiritually crushed for us. It’s in contemplating this pain that we come to tears and surrender over what He did for us. The suffering He endured for us is how His love was expressed and how the ultimate gift was provided.
Because I love Him so much, I hate that Jesus experienced any pain—but if He hadn’t, I couldn’t live with Him forever. He did it for me. It was because of God’s immense love for us that His worst pain turned into our biggest blessing.
Being crushed for His purposes hurts like no other in the process, but coming out the other side you recognize the honor that it is and the joy it ultimately brings. You’ll come out closer, forever changed, and with a sweet personal aroma (story) of who He is to you.
Darla Lauterbach-Reeves was raised in the church, but it wasn’t until her marriage fell apart that she came to truly know her Greatest Love—Jesus—in whom she found the relationship she had always craved. She is the author of the forthcoming book He Loves Me THAT Much?