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.
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!