There will be no “knights in shining armor” in God’s kingdom; our armor will have many dings and dents. No, no perfect Hollywood heros will ride to save the day; just wearied saints to look to God and, in weakness, find Christ’s strength. This, indeed, is the essence of God’s kingdom: divine greatness manifest in common people. ~ Francis Frangipane
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. ~Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in 2 Corinthians 1
Oh beloved, it is true. There are parts of who we were that are painful beyond belief. We have failed and hurt others. We have been hurt by the failures of those we thought we knew. All of our lives – really – are in the past, but the past really does taunt us at times.
All of the wisdom that has come to our lives has really only come through the cruel taskmaster of experience – whose main mode of instruction is mistakes. We have been beaten smooth and to a shine. And while we really are looking better on the inside and the out, the pain of getting to this place really hurts.
If we are willing though, we can choose to allow the pain to simply be what it is. And it is OK to hurt. There is a purpose to it, even though while we are in it, it is the last place that we would like to be.
Firstly, pain dissolves (if we let it) our confidence in our own abilities to handle things. As we see the scrolling list of the ways we did not succeed in our own strength; as we feel the loss inherent in being misunderstood by others, even when we are doing things well, we come to the end of believing that what we do (in and of ourselves) can really make any difference.
Secondly, pain drives us towards (if we let it) towards the only One who can actually comfort us through the entire process. The more abundant the pain, the greater the provision of The Comforter. And in this space we understand that the process of pain is the only pathway to real joy. It is as if the exercise of our emotions in pain is the primer upon which G_d paints the masterpieces of His real Love for us.
Thirdly, but only if we let the first and second thing happen, we gain something through all our failure and pain: We come to find that we are successes at nearly everything we have failed at. Don’t be confused by this. It is simpler than it seems. The athletes with the great scoring records usually also have the greatest number of misses. And in the same way, our pain and failure can now become the way that we bring comfort and success to others.
Can we see it? It is the Kingdom. Loss is gain. Failure is success. Suffering is joy. It is the way of the real world that has already begun and is yet to come. Yes, one Day all of the suffering will have served its purpose and will be washed away in a flood of the joy that has come from it all. And yes again, the suffering and pain is foundational to us arriving in that place.
So are you hurting? Have you failed? Good. These things really are the gateway to true and lasting comfort and success. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to see the purpose for the pain. Time to see the success that will be born through the failures in your past.
Written by Makala (Mak) Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of God, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, God’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Click Here to Download our 2016 Daily Bible Reading Plan
Daily Quote: “What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may have stumbled and frequently fallen, endured lapses and relapses, gotten handcuffed to the fleshpots and wandered into a far country. Yet, they kept coming back to Jesus.” ~Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him. ~Psalm 28:7