The Lines of Pain Draw Us Closer to God

September 29, 2020

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4

Written by Shelia Painter from the Brentwood Campus

One of the most difficult times I’ve endured in my life was when I lost my husband, Noel, to cancer ten years ago. I watched him suffer for an entire year after his diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer. Nothing can describe the anguish of watching someone you love die a little more each day until the end. The more distant he became as he was passing from life to death, the more reluctant I was to face the reality that I was going to be alone. I had a clearly defined life with him before this happened. Now I had to redefine that life and adapt to the changes that would come.

In the weeks leading up to his death, I noticed that his physical appearance was changing dramatically. His face became sunken in, pale and gray. Every line created by the pain of cancer was visible across his brow and his cheeks. He looked much older than the 55 years indicated by his birth certificate.

Two days before he died, he seemed to have greater lucidity. I stayed up with him all that night, talking and reminiscing. For one brief moment, God allowed me to see him as he once was. His face was full and pink, and his eyes were that piercing blue color that you couldn’t look away from, not translucent with life escaping them. It was a blessing during a time of great sorrow. He said to me “I have to go. I don’t think it will be today, but it will be soon.” I took comfort in that, because when he said it, he was at peace and looking forward to his transition.

James tells us in this passage that we should consider it a great joy when we go through trials, because we understand that the testing of our faith through these experiences produces endurance. Now, I understand that God does not expect us to be happy while we are suffering. But He wants us to know that through the trial we will have matured in our faith.

We shouldn’t stop living while in the midst of sorrow. Enduring the adversity and allowing the pain and suffering to engulf us, as it certainly does, is how we learn to trust God to get us through to the other side of the pain. Only then can we can experience the joy of having endured the pain and understanding that Jesus was right there with us.

We can anchor our ship and endure the storm, waiting for it to pass, or we can set full sail ahead with Jesus at the helm gliding us through the storm.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Have you had your faith tested through adversity?
  2. Did you endure the suffering knowing Jesus was with you?
  3. Did you draw closer to God during and after the experience?

Missions Prayer
Pray for our global workers who have a college student in their family. Many times this means the student is thousands of miles and from home and may feel like a foreigner in the US. We think of them as coming “home” to the US for college, when they likely feel like home is on the other side of the world. Pray for a special sense of belonging with the Lord as they navigate these adjustments.