Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder delved into the movie Black Widow. In the beginning, we hear the mother tell her two young daughters not to fear pain. She tells them to use their pain to make themselves stronger (and more ruthless) and to “never let it steal your heart.”
But what does that mean? Pain, both physical and emotional, can be life-altering in ways no one wants. It can make us bitter and take away from the life God has for us.
Ben described what happens inside us when pain flattens us. He said one of the things pain destroys first is trust, and when pain begins to redefine your heart in a destructive way, you stop trusting others. You begin isolating yourself, always preparing to defend yourself against every real or imagined attack. And that’s when it happens—hurt people hurt people.
So how do we guard against that? How can we stop pain from destroying us and, instead, choose to take that pain and use it to make us stronger?
First, we need to recognize that some of the most important and meaningful lessons in our lives are born of pain. For me, the hardest lesson was watching my husband bravely live with and then succumb to the ravages of Alzheimer’s.
Somewhere along the way, I learned to ask God in every scary, painful, and even fatal circumstance, “Lord, what is it you want me to learn from this? How can I serve you better by having lived through this?”
Pain has taught me God is the potter, and as such, he has the undeniable right to choose to shape me for what he wants me to do to bring him glory. It’s never about what my self-absorbed sin nature wants to do.
After that revelation, my question then became, “Will I trust you Lord through the painful times?” Through his grace and leading, my answer has become, “I do.”
Zephaniah 3:16-17 tells Christ followers, “Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Thankfully, God has taught me several things:
First, life is full of pain, but God never wastes a hurt. In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul proclaims that as adopted children of God, “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Secondly, God allows but does not cause our pain. God uses it to purify our sinful nature. He uses it to make us stronger, more Christ-like vessels, knowing that because Jesus suffered and died in our place for our sins, God not only goes with us through the fire, Jesus carries us through it.
Then God uses us to bless, grow, and help others through their pain-filled hurts and disasters. With God at the center of our lives, we confirm to them how and why we will never allow pain to steal our hearts.
How do you deal with pain? Do you let it weaken and/or destroy you? Or do you let God use it to strengthen you?
Do you know Jesus Christ saved you from the price demanded for your sins?
Dig deep into what the Bible has to say about how immense God’s love is for you. He chose to sacrifice his only begotten son to save you from the punishment demanded as payment for making yourself the god of your life.
Ask questions. Talk with your DreamTeam Leader, Groups Leader, or a CedarCreek staff member. They would love to connect with you! Not sure how to connect? Check out CedarCreek.tv/connect.
Pray that you will turn your life, hurts, habits, and hangups over to the one true God who loves you.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us a way back to you, our creator, father, and lord, by providing for us what we could never provide—a perfect sinless sacrifice to pay the price for us—your son, Jesus Christ. Help us to live with and for you all the days of our lives and for all eternity. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.
This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.
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