It’s time to stop running from pain.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
In the classic “Experiencing God” study, Henry Blackaby encourages us to come to really know God on a personal and intimate level. Part of the process involves experiencing the many facets of God’s nature as reflected in His various names. In simple terms, this means that we experience Him as our provider, defender, comforter, peace, healer, deliverer, etc. Normally, through some life experience, we come to know Him in one of these ways. Later, in God’s perfect timing, and through another experience, we come to know him in another way. Through these experiences, He becomes real. His attributes become more than just facts we can recite when discussing His nature. Once we have experienced God in one of these ways, He becomes ours. He has proven Himself to be whatever that particular name suggests. We have experienced it to be true. It is no longer just head knowledge. Both our heart and mind agree, understand, and have been changed by the experience.
While each “name” or description of what God will be for us (provider, defender, comforter, etc.) is unique, they all have something in common. That is to say that they all require the same thing in order to be understood, grasped and made ours. That common ingredient is pain. In order to know God as our provider, we must go through a time of great need. To know Him as our defender requires that we come under attack. To know God as our comforter, we must first experience extreme grief. There is a definite pattern here. Knowing and experiencing God requires pain. Watchman Nee, the great Chinese Christian teacher, writer, and local church founder, once said, “We seldom learn anything new about God except through adversity.” The longer I walk with God, the more I agree with him.
AS I SEE IT
I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons for the superficiality of Christianity in America is the lack of a deep personal and intimate relationship with God. If we really don’t know Him, how can we ever love Him, serve Him, or live for Him? We’re content to know about Him, as long as He makes no unreasonable demands on us. And the reason we never come to know Him is that we are unwilling to endure the pain along the way. We have become a culture that runs from pain. Half the ads on TV are directed to pain relief. We have been persuaded to run from pain without considering the reason for it. We don’t want to discover the cause and meaning of it. We simply want to make it go away.
So, why is pain so necessary? Why are followers of Christ called into the fellowship of His suffering? Why is pain required to know God? The best answer I have come to understand is seen in an illustration. Anyone who has watched an ice sculptor in action will never forget the experience. The master sculptor starts with a giant block of ice. Within a few hours the cold hard block of frozen water has been transformed into a majestic, mighty, glistening eagle. During one such demonstration, an onlooker asked in amazement, “How do you do that?” The sculptor quipped back, “I keep chipping away at everything that doesn’t look like an eagle.” What an illustration of what God does with us. Picture yourself as the block of ice. In this case, however, the object to be formed isn’t an eagle. It’s Christ. Our Father chips away at everything that doesn’t look like Christ. It’s the process of sanctification in action. If the ice could feel, every blow with the chisel or cut with the saw would be painful, but the results would make it all worthwhile.
The question is, Are we willing to endure God’s blows and cuts so that Christ can be formed in us? If we are, we will come to know God as provider, comforter, defender, and every other way He wants to reveal Himself. We will come closer to the perfect fellowship He desires to have with us because the greatest barrier, our flesh and its desires, has been chipped away, allowing Christ in us to enjoy the fellowship with the Father here on earth as it exists in heaven.