Reflections – Beauty from Pain

Day Two

In the 1930’s the St. Louis Cardinals had a star pitcher who played with youthful personality and passion. His name was Dizzy Dean.

Dizzy Dean led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title in 1934 when his pitching won them thirty games in one season. He was at the peak of his career and seemingly unstoppable until the 1937 All-Star game when a line drive struck him on the foot, fracturing his big toe.

Not one to sit on the sidelines, Dizzy found a way to adjust his pitching motion to avoid landing hard on his injured toe. But in the process, he hurt his shoulder, losing his great fastball.

Dizzy Dean’s career ended, not because of his injured toe, but because of the shoulder injury he received while compensating for his injured toe.

Many of us, perhaps you today, have learned to compensate for injuries to our identity. These injuries are lodged so deep in your heart and over the years, they’ve shaped the way you live.

You’ve learned to compensate.

Conceal.

Adjust.

Adapt.

And something deep inside just feels off.

It affects the way you see yourself, your relationship with God, your relationships with others, how you live and how you act.

Whether it’s due to shameful words, shattered dreams or painful experiences, these injuries are so deep we often don’t even know they’re there. We’ve just become really good at compensating for them.

Somehow we have to find a way to move beyond the discomfort and pain to embrace something far greater. God didn’t create us to limp around, masking and covering up our pain. He created us to live differently – with wholeness, vitality and purpose.

The path to experiencing this begins by allowing his loving presence to change and transform our lives. He’s an expert at taking the brokenness of our life and building something beautiful.

In fact, it’s what He does best.

Paul says it this way in Romans 8:17-18,

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 

The brokenness, the suffering and the injustice that we see and experience here on earth, pale in comparison to the glory that we will experience when we meet Jesus face to face. As his children, we can live with a confident hope that rises above all of our present pain, fear, struggles and insecurities because someday, we will share with Jesus in experiencing the complete freedom and wholeness of his eternal Kingdom!

The Greek word for glory in the above verse is dóxa, which means a most glorious condition. The glory spoken of in this verse relates to us, his children, and refers to the ideal condition in which God created and intended his children to live.1  

God wants you to become and do everything He originally meant for you to be. He wants you to embrace your True Selfie! In fact, that’s why He created you!

Even better news: his glory can begin to be revealed through your life, right here, right now. Even through challenges, even through suffering, you can live in a way that glorifies God by pointing others to the eternal hope that you have in Christ.

The past failures and the present difficulties don’t determine our future and can’t hinder God’s purpose from being accomplished in our lives. Nothing even compares to the glory that God will someday reveal in us—the fullness and completeness of total wholeness, restoration and freedom.

Amidst great seasons of joy and success, our lives will be checkered with moments of heartache, disappointment, failure and unfulfilled dreams. God wants to use those seasons of suffering to mold, change and transform us. Ironically, it’s often during the most challenging seasons in my life, when I’ve seen God do his greatest work.

If you continue reading the rest of Romans 8, you’ll find Paul build on this truth as he writes about an unshakable hope we can have as Christ followers. One of my favorite verses is found here in verse 28,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

All things . . . that includes the financial things, the bad relationship things, the family things, the school things, the depressing things, the past things, the job-related things . . .

You get the idea?

Your number one hurt, your number one problem, God can use to help mold and shape you so you will more accurately reflect the image of his Son and bring glory to him through your life.

Often, we limit “the good” we’re hoping to see in our life to temporal, material things. Much of the time, God wants so much more for us. He looks beyond our circumstances, his perspective extends into eternity and “his good work” usually involves doing something of far greater eternal worth and glory as He works in our heart.

Whatever you’ve endured or experienced, it’s my prayer you would know God is good, He is faithful and He can be trusted. He desperately loves you and wants the best for your life. You’re beautiful and precious in his sight, and He wants to use your current mess to make something beautiful.

This doesn’t mean He’s a fairy godmother-type who alleviates all of our problems and pain. In fact, it’s often quite the contrary. Difficult circumstances are a pathway to growth and maturity. God loves you so much that He desires to work deep in your heart if you’ll let him. Some of the innermost places of character are forged through pain and suffering.

Even the most ugly, horrible experiences can be an opportunity for God to make something beautiful, something good, in your life.

Don’t compensate. Don’t cover-up. Don’t conceal any longer. Allow God to do his even greater work of healing in your soul.

Think about it…

  • What injuries to your identity might you be compensating for?
  • How have you seen the eternal hope offered to us through Jesus sustain you during dark seasons?
  • Why do you think God uses suffering and pain to mold and shape us? Have you seen this true in your life? If so, how?
  • What aspect of your life are you trusting that God would to work to bring something good? What step can you take to grow in your trust of him?

 

1 Spiros Zodhaites, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1992) p. 478 & Strong’s Concordance

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