Purpose in emotional pain

How do you respond to emotional pain? Do you tend to run from emotional pain? Maybe you fight and resist any sign of pain on the horizon. It’s possible you surrender, accepting your circumstances. We all face seasons when emotional pain collides with our life. The “why’s” can be counterproductive and drain us of the energy we will need to face the road ahead. Knowing with certainty that there is purpose in the emotional pain can sometimes soften the blow.

I am skilled at running and resistance training. I’m not talking about the physical training kind. I mean, at the first sign of emotional pain, I’m lacing up my running shoes and looking for a quick way out.

I am also known to resist the pain through effective measures such as avoidance, stuffing my feelings and good old fashioned denial.

This is my knee jerk reaction I wish surrendering to the emotional pain was my “Plan A”, but it’s not. More often than not, surrendering to emotional pain comes when I’m all out of options.

When I stop resisting and have run out of options, I surrender. Surrender is the sweet spot. It’s the place I become still, drop to my knees and am overcome with emotion.

If surrender is the sweet spot, why do we resist and run from emotional pain?

“Surrender is the sweet spot.”

2 Reasons We Run from Emotional Pain

1.The most obvious answer is, emotional pain hurts. Our brains are wired to avoid pain. Have you ever touched a hot pan? You yanked your hand away, right? That’s because the nerves in your hand sent a signal to your brain and your brain responded with a plan – move your hand!

2.We might be seeking a quick win. We want a fast acting (emotional) pain reliever. We forget there is purpose in the pain. Our eyes are set on now, not later.

God’s Word assures us there is purpose in the pain. And a ton of promises and encouragement to go with purpose. He tells us to flee sin, flee temptation, but not pain.

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There is Purpose in Your Emotional Pain

Nothing in God’s economy is wasted. He uses all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). This promise is everything to me. This means His purposes prevail (Proverbs 19:21). His plans can never be thwarted (Job 42:4). Whether my sin is the cause of my pain or the broken world collides with my life, God is in control.

He intends to grow us in the pain. Can you think of a time you faced what seemed like unbearable pain? Do you remember how you felt?

I can remember a time when it felt like a rug had been ripped out from under me. Even a deep breath seemed impossible. I remember that I wanted to cry, but no tears came. Only tightness in my chest and a lump in my throat. Everything was foggy, including the promises of God.

Imagining purpose in the emotional pain seemed ludicrous to me. I wondered how on earth something good could come from this.

Hindsight is always 20/20. When I look back I can see how God used my emotional pain for His purposes.

5 Purposes in Emotional Pain

1. We give up on relying on ourselves and rely on God (2 Corinthians 1:9). It’s in the pain that I run out of options and run into the arms of Christ. As we are put in a position to trust God more, we are strengthening that trust muscle. Trust begets trust.

2. The more we choose to trust God, the more we experience peace and joy (Romans 15:13). God delights to bless us with the fruit of peace and joy, but it begins with trust.

3. Even in the emotional pain that comes out of this world, we have an opportunity to bring glory to God (John 9:3). Our amazing God can turn ashes into beauty, mourning into joy and despair into praise (Isaiah 61:3). Through pain we are made strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10). Have you ever came out of a heart wrenching season feeling stronger than ever? You entered that season with Pee Wee Herman faith and walked out with Superman faith. God working in your pain.

4. Emotional pain prepares you to help others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Do you find yourself bumping into people going through what you’ve already endured? Sharing God’s faithfulness to you comforts others and brings God glory. It reminds the person you’re comforting- they are not alone.

5. Pain changes you and your desires (Psalms 73:21-28). But when you’ve reached the other side of pain, you are different. How could you possibly be the same? You’ve been reminded of the brokenness all around you and in you. It occurs to you closeness to God brings peace that cannot be found anywhere else. You long for more. Your gaze has gone from horizontal to vertical.

Final Thoughts: Purpose in Emotional Pain

Don’t run from the pain. Stop resisting it. It’s time to surrender. Surrender is the sweet spot. Just breathe. There is purpose in your pain.

Most importantly, when you reach the other side of emotional pain you will see how it brought Him glory, strengthened your faith and increase your reliance on Him. Through it all you will be different and more equipped to help others.

How have you seen purpose in your pain? – leave a comment below!

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23 Comments

  1. Chip Mattis on August 29, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Great post. I totally know what you’re saying. When I’ve faced hard times, the best way through it was through it. I couldn’t go around it. I couldn’t get over it. I had to walk through it. Surrender was the sweet spot.
    I just didn’t try it alone.
    God and others carried me. If not for them, I wouldn’t have made it whole on the other side.

    • Sunshyne on August 29, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Thanks for stopping by Chip! I like how you said the best way through it was through it. So true! I lose so much energy and time resisting the pain even though I know our loving God is up to something BIG in the messy pain! Appreciate you sharing your insight!

    • Mary Stephens on September 3, 2018 at 11:13 am

      This reminds me of the first part of a poem by Annie Johnson Flint – A Red Sea Place.

      Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
      Where in spite of all you can do,
      There is no way out, there is no way back,
      There is no other way but through?
      Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
      Till the night of your fear is gone;
      He will send the wind, He will heap the floods,
      When He says to your soul “Go on.”

  2. Joan Claassen on August 31, 2018 at 4:46 am

    I excited to put a name to that place …… sweet spot ….. never will i feel guilty or listen to what others say about being so overcome by emotions …. that you are a weak person …. or that you are emotionally unstable…thank you so much..

    • Sunshyne on August 31, 2018 at 9:21 am

      Thank you for your comment Joan! Yes, I find that surrender is the sweet spot. The place I find rest when I stop resisting what God has allowed in my life.

  3. Leslie Newman on August 31, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Such a good post with the right focus. Thank you so much, Sunshyne!

  4. Mary Stephens on September 3, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Thank you for the reminder. Emotional pain is a difficult one to face and accept as something that God will work for our good – and the good of others. I try to remember what the Psalmist said – to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him…” He does have a purpose, even when we can’t always see it.

    • Sunshyne on September 4, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Hi Mary! Thank you for stopping by. You’re absolutely right when you said, “He does have a purpose, even when we can’t always see it”. The inability to see it contributes to the restlessness in it! It always brings me back to Proverbs 3:5…Trust in the Lord and not your own understanding.

  5. Lilah Rouse on September 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Wisdom thank you

    • Sunshyne on September 6, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you for stopping by Lilah!

  6. Aimee Imbeau on September 6, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you for this encouraging post about emotional pain, Sunshyne. I can completely relate to it. I appreciate that you provide reasons why we run from pain but then you assure us that God can use our pain for His glory. Because, in reality, we cannot escape completely from pain.

    I have chosen your post as my Grace and Truth feature this week. Please stop by my site tomorrow and download the “I Was Featured” button (just right click and download to your computer). Then you can upload the graphic to this post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sunshyne on September 6, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you Aimee! I’m excited to be the featured post at Grace and Truth. ~Sunshyne

  7. […] Finding Purpose in Emotional Pain […]

    • Sunshyne on September 6, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      Thank you for the link and the feature Deb!

  8. […] post, Finding Purpose in Emotional Pain, immediately caught my eye.  I knew it would be a topic I could relate to.  I love that she […]

  9. Christy Shirley on September 13, 2018 at 1:13 am

    Send me bible studies

    • Sunshyne on September 13, 2018 at 5:39 am

      Hi Christy, I’m so glad you stopped by:) Sign up for the bible study in the post and it gets sent automatically.

  10. Sheryl on May 30, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    I understand the emotional pain place too well. It is the hardest for me to “see” through. I ask the Holy Spirit to give me words. I pray because God has answered so many prayers. But, I have a few issues that He is allowing me to deal with while He accompanies me. My biggest problem is that I have not let go of the love of my first boyfriend in 1967. I was 12 when we met. He is four years my elder. He never was out of order. He was kind and considerate and just the type of man I expected God to want in my life. We came from middle class and educated families. He graduated from Morehouse and I from UT Tyler twice. He still works at a global company and I am on disability. I have never let him go and from his behavior with me he still has emotional pain, too. We talked until my ex-husband tried to get the man fired from his job, left messages for the man’s wife, and I have no idea what else. Nevertheless, the look in our eyes are not of lust and never have been. We both believe God considers adultery sin. We talk in respect of our spouses, or in my case I had to divorce my ex-husband instructed by my psychiatrist. We were not out of order. So, Jesus felt pain when He could not heal people because they did not believe. I believe because I know God for myself. I am a living testimonials book. I would not break a covenant. I loved my first boyfriend for good reasons. I have loved him since. I have prayed for God to remove the pain of not getting to marry a man of statue who offered qualities to make me forget how the first made me feel. I have been in therapy since 1996. My first and best therapist told me the first is always the hardest. I wrote a letter of forgiveness in therapy to forgive him for not marrying me. I was the maiden waiting for her bridegroom. He married his college sweetheart. I was 16. When I married the first time he told me having a baby will not make my marriage better. He also got very concerned when I told him about the fights I tolerated. We have talked even 2019. As I said earlier, no covenant breakers. I have no desires for that and neither does he. We enjoy talking to each other as in 1967. I am not looking for anything. I just need the pain to go away. I spent one year seeing him come to work in mornings as I took my sister to work there. I would see him for his 2 lunchtime. At times I would see him driving home from work. I know God has a way of letting us see who we are not to be with. I cannot be with a man who has a wife. Jesus felt pain from my sins. He died so that I may live through Him. I do not understand the pain I carry since 1967 relationship with a great dude. I pray over this because I pain over this for all these years. I’m blocking God’s blessing me with a better male companion. Do you have words for pain removal? It seems the more I pray the more God puts me in the man’s presence. I will see him June 8 for a formal affair. I know how to act or behave. It is sincere. I just don’t have a first aid kit. My God shaped void needs healing.

    • Sunshyne on June 13, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Sheryl, I appreciate you taking the time to share your story. I am not going to speak to the ex husband’s concerns over your relationship with a friend of the opposite sex, but I do want to speak to the dwelling on the past. I don’t believe that is where God wants us to stay. It will keep us from moving forward in our purpose now. Check out this article… https://sunshynegray.com/how-to-stop-dwelling-on-the-past/

  11. […] the command to forgive leads to blessing. Keep in mind that nothing is wasted in God’s economy(more on purpose in pain here). He is known for turning ashes into beauty, mourning into joy and despair into praise (Isaiah […]

  12. […] Second, if the healing is done, then the next step is to shift the focus. Dwelling puts focus on what was lost. Rather, put focus on what was gained or learned from the past. God is purposeful and uses all things for our good (Romans 8:28), including things from the past. For more on purpose in the pain, check out this article. […]

  13. […] Check out 5 purposes of pain here. […]

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