What to do When the Pain is Unbearable
“Cast your cares on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
Pain. We all feel it at some point in our lives. Sometimes our pain is a 2 out of 10, and at other times the pain is so severe, we feel like we no longer want to live. Death would be a respite–or so we think. Many people believe that suicide is a selfish act, and to an extent it absolutely is. But for those who take their own lives, they do so because they want relief. The enemy convinces them the unbearable pain they feel will never go away, so they act on those feelings one last time.
When pain is not noticeable in my own life, and someone asks me, “How are you doing?” sometimes I’ll reply with, “Enjoying a season of blessing,” and honestly, I am. I’m milking it for all it’s worth because I know full well, with the life I’ve lived, when the seas are calm it’s time to enjoy smooth sailing–but it won’t last. Does that seem pessimistic? Why would I say such a thing?…Because I’m being real. Because I know a hurricane can come in at any point in time, causing the waves to crash all around me, trying to throw me off the boat so that I may drown.
I’m not saying that I look forward to the hurricanes, or that I even worry about the hurricanes, but I know that a season of pain will eventually head toward the panhandle of my life. It happens to all of us. This is why we should always smile, close our eyes, and breathe in deep when we are sailing through seasons of ease.
This world is fallen. Because of our original ancestor, Adam, when he chose to act on the power of sin, this planet crashed. It’s broken. It’s not what God wanted, but what God knew would happen because of the option of choice. Without choice, we can’t love. Without love, we can’t have a relationship with God. But that’s not what this devotional is about. It’s about being punched in the stomach with crippling pain, and what we should do about it.
With us being in Adam’s loin at the time of his first sin, we not only inherited a terrible planet, but we also bequeathed sin-filled DNA–by no fault of our own (see Romans 5). By being born into this fallen place, we must now face whatever painful trials come our way–and it’s Adam’s fault. But honestly, even if it was me who was in the Garden, it would have been my fault too. I’d make a choice that God did not agree with, eventually…we all would. So, if God is rich in mercy and full of love, what are we to do when the pain of this place becomes unbearable?
Refocus…refocus on our thoughts.
Pain is a feeling. Feelings are dictated from our thoughts. Whatever you are constantly thinking about is what you are going to constantly be feeling about. For this reason, Paul told the Philippian Christians:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
Twice he said what they should do–THINK DIFFERENTLY!
“But Matt, I can’t help what I think!”
I’ll give you that, you are right. We can’t always help what we think, but we can always help what we are deliberately thinking of. This is why we allow God to transform our lives by the renewing of our minds–renewing means ongoing. Further, it doesn’t say renew our feelings because we have no control over how we feel, just look:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Where our mind goes our emotions follow. Some of us have worried ourselves sick about something happening to us that has never even happened! Why? Because we’ve been thinking about this fear for a very long time! This is why Paul told the Romans to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. He didn’t say you are transformed. In their spirits, yes, they had been transformed because they received a new spirit from God the moment they first believed (see Romans 6:6, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20). But our minds are not our spirits. Our minds are a part of our souls, the customizable part of us: our mind, free will, and emotions.
And notice what he told them to be transformed by?…God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will! You might immediately say, “Well, what is God’s will?!”
It’s Christ in us (see John 6:40, Colossians 1:27). God’s will is His Spirit in you transforming you! Paul never said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your feelings.” He said be transformed by the renewing of your mind in Christ! (See 1 Corinthians 2:16). Once we begin to do this everything changes, no matter how unbearable a time of trial may be!
Friend, God knows about your pain, He gave us feelings for a reason. There is nothing wrong with your feelings, God has feelings too! He knows what you feel deeper than even you feel it, and He’s with you! That is, if you’ve believed Jesus has forgiven you.
The agony you feel could be a financial turmoil that keeps you awake at night–THEY SAID ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TITHE, BUT YOU ARE STILL STRUGGLING! “The pastor just bought a new boat! I saw him on Instagram taking a family trip to Paris, and I can’t even pay my bills! Why did he lie to me about tithing?! I even gave above and beyond the tithe!”
You might be suffering from the abuse from when you were young–IT WASN’T YOUR FAULT! THEY SEXUALLY ABUSED YOU OR BEAT YOU TO NO END! They stole your innocence! “WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT TO ME?!? I WAS JUST A CHILD!”
Your pain might be from an addicted or absent parent. They left you! They loved their addiction, or their new relationship, more than you! You cried in those foster homes while they were out getting drunk and high! “THEY DIDN’T CARE ABOUT ME! ALL THE OTHER KIDS HAD THEIR PARENTS BUT I DIDN’T!”…It wasn’t your fault. They were the messed up ones–not you.
Or maybe it was a parent who kept you from your other parent. You were brainwashed into thinking they were a bad person, and they weren’t! They wanted to see you all along, and they fought for you! You were robbed of a relationship! You were lied to! “HOW DARE THEY DO THAT TO ME!?”
An addiction might be the pain in your life right now–YOU ARE DONE LIVING! You think, “I can’t beat this! I hate myself because I’m so weak! I’ve tried a thousand times to get rid of this! I don’t want it! WHY CAN’T I QUIIIIIIIIT?!”
The suffering you are facing could be coming from a spouse, they’ve done the unthinkable and their vows were lies to you and God. They enjoy seeing you in pain because it gives them pleasure–“IT HURTS SO BAD!” Or maybe a child has refused to speak to you, they are making decisions which are tearing your soul apart–“WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS?! I DIDN’T RAISE THEM THAT WAY!”
Your pain might be coming from a sickness–“WHY AM I SICK, GOD? WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?!” Or maybe someone close to you has died, it was too soon and it’s not fair–“MY WHOLE BODY ACHES WITH PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN!!!!”
Maybe it’s religious abuse that has caused you to suffer so much. The graceless Christians have kicked you out and told you you’re not good enough, “Go somewhere else! You weren’t quick enough to repent! Your kind doesn’t belong here! You are going to hell!”…when all along you just wanted some help with your pain.
Whatever or whoever is causing you unbearable pain, Jesus wants to help you. He wants you to refocus on Him. He wants you to refocus your thinking.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
You, dear child, are an overcomer! Do you see what John wrote?! YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER! How? Because Jesus lives in you! He who is in you is greater than he who is in this fallen world! Who is the he who is in this world? The devil. The enemy. Satan. His demonic crew. Jesus said this idiot only has three main goals: steal, kill, destroy (see John 10:10)–and he does this in your mind…in your thinking.
But what does Jesus do in your mind? He transforms it! As you allow Him to transform your mind into the truth of who you are and whose you are–YOU WILL BE ABLE TO OVERCOME ANY UNBEARABLE PAIN! You will feel the pain and Jesus will comfort you! You will feel the pain and He will strengthen you! You will feel the pain and you will grow! You will feel the pain and know that it won’t last forever because He who is in you is greater than all pain! He who is in you took on the painful sin of the entire world and you and He are one! (See Colossians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:19).
So today, my friend, refocus your mind on these truths. When you do, you will realize that God works all things out together for good, even our pain. Just look at the Cross. The most painful day in the history of the world turned out to be the most beautiful. Jesus, who did that, lives in you.
A prayer for you: God, you know about the unbearable pain so many of us are in, you KNOW this. And at the same time, you know what we are truly capable of through you. The very same Spirit of Christ who took on the pain of the world lives in us, and we are grateful. Remind us of this fact as we get beat up and hurt, yet we don’t respond how the devil wants us to. If we’ve decided to allow you to live through us, we know that our pain will get even worse at times because the population of hell is threatened by us. As our enemy holds over the flames whatever, or whoever, we’ve placed our identity in, remind us who we are! YOUR KIDS! Help us change our thinking and teach us more about our identity as we move forward, changing this world for you, with love. We are focused on Jesus! Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!