Pain & Promises (Prayer Devotional for the week of January 26, 2014)

Well-meaning people often tell naïve, new mothers-to-be that after the baby is born, you don’t even remember the pain, because you are so joyful. Those people lie. You do remember the pain.

Is the end result worth it? Absolutely; don’t get me wrong. Seeing that baby’s scrunchy little face and hearing that first cry is worth every bottom-lip-biting, cuss-stifling, abs-ripping hour that preceded it. Childbirth is something truly amazing to experience and witness. However, the joy of birth doesn’t mean that the pain never happened. It doesn’t mean that pain won’t still come.

It’s unfortunate that we can send a similarly messed-up message to the world about Christianity as these new moms are hearing about labor & delivery. John 16:33 (NIV) reminds us: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God doesn’t promise health, wealth and fame. What he does promise – among other awesome guarantees, like his never-ending love and saving grace – is that he’ll never abandon us to deal with life alone (Hebrews 13:5-6).

In our study of Matthew 5 these past few weeks, we’ve seen time and again how those who stay committed to God through hard times are blessed. I think that sometimes when we (or perhaps it’s just me?) are on a high place, spiritually speaking, we tend to conveniently forget the difficulties that led us there. We don’t want to think about encountering any obstacles on the way down the mountain, either. We just want to think about the happy-go-lucky time that we’re having, in the moment. I like the way The Message paraphrases v. 8: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

When we acknowledge the difficult & painful times but continue to trust God during them, then perhaps we’ll be better poised to appreciate the joyful times even more. Labor may feel unending while it is happening, but eventually there is a blessing to be held. Likewise, our trials may feel overwhelming at the time, but God can bring you out of it even stronger on the other side.

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