Monday, March 10, 2008

Breathing Underwater VIII: Letting God Use My Pain To Help Others

Life is fragile, and yet at the same time the creator of the universe has breathed into us. And this divine breath is in every single human being ever . . .. We’re these sacred, divine dirt-clods. And yet we possess untold power and strength. Your life is but a breath, and yet the creator of everything made you. Now for thousands of years, people have understood that this physical breath that we all possess is actually a picture of a deeper reality. In the Bible, the word for breath is the same word as the word for spirit. In the Hebrew language, it’s the word "ruach," and in the Greek language, it’s the word "pneuma.’ . . . Breath, spirit. Same word.

The first Christians took hold of this idea, and they took it way farther. They actually believed that the Spirit of God resides, or can literally dwell, live in a person. One scripture in Romans 8 says that if the pneuma (Spirit of God) who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then God will give you life. Another scripture says that what the Spirit of God does living in you is it sanctifies. Now the word sanctify, it means to, like, purge, or to clean out. What it essentially means is that when you let God in, when you breathe, what happens is you become aware of all the things you need to leave behind, everything you need to let go of. . . . Jesus said that what the Spirit of God does is it guides us into truth. Is there anything you need guidance in? Rob Bell

“We all fall short. It’s just some of us haven’t been caught.” Catherine Rohr, Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program

Is pain my mentor?

The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Some things are loved because they are worthy. I am worthy because I am loved.

Too many times we recycle our pain to hurt others and not to help them.

Step 8: I will let myself be used by God to bring healing, love and truth to others, both by example and words.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched... but are felt in the heart. Helen Keller

Why has God allowed my pain?

There are ‘head’ answers to this question, and ‘heart’ answers.

You have a free will and so do others.

Our pain gets our attention and can lead us to God.

2 Corinthians 7:9
Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.

Jonah 2:7
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you.

God uses pain to help us learn to depend on Him.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11
We don't want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it. We felt like we'd been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he's the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he'll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don't want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God's deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

God allows my pain to become healing for others.

2 Corinthians 1:4
God alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

God never wastes a hurt. But we can waste it if we don’t learn from it and don’t share it with others.

How can others become whole and healed if you and I won’t share our problems with them in order to encourage them on the journey?

1 Peter 3:13-18
If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

Make a list of your experiences, the good and the bad, and journal about these questions:

What did I learn from that experience?

How God, did You help me through that tough time?

If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.

Galatians 6:1-2
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

God wants to use you.

What if the parable of the talents (Matthew 25) actually had some meaning towards the stewardship of our pain, too?

Many people come to God hoping to eliminate their pain, buying into a kind of false teaching that says, “If you come to God everything is going to be okay!”

1 Peter 4:1-2
Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

Acts 20:22-24
But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I'm completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won't be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

Allow God to finish what He started in you. He will use you to bring healing to others!

We’re going to immerse ourselves in Acts in the coming weeks, and consider ourselves a part of the writing of Acts 29.


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