Pain and the Promise
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One day while I was driving, something popped into my mind and I recognized the Holy Spirit speaking. This was the thought: even Mary, the mother of Jesus, wasn’t spared the pain of childbirth. She gave birth to the Savior of the world, our beloved Jesus, and even she experienced pain! [insert mind-blown emoji here] As I began to ponder this, I couldn’t believe I had never thought of that before. Of course, Mary experienced labor pains—every woman giving birth does to some extent!
So why was I shocked with the realization that even the mother of our Savior wasn’t protected from that type of physical pain? I think it’s because something much deeper was being revealed to me—sometimes pain gets you to the promise.
How many times do we see this in Scripture? Let me answer that question for you: a lot! Take the story of Joseph for example. In Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream that he would rule over his brothers and nations. His brothers didn’t like that very much and sold him into slavery. From there, Joseph lived a very trying life for years—he was accused of something he never did, put in jail, left for dead, and completely forgotten about. Until one day, everything changed.
In Genesis 41, we read that Joseph accurately interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and he then makes Joseph second-in-command over all of Egypt. But how did Pharaoh know to go to Joseph for his interpretation in the first place? Well, we read in the chapter before this while Joseph was in prison he accurately interpreted a dream for an imprisoned cupbearer, who then years later put in a good word to Pharaoh about Joseph’s gift of interpreting dreams.
Did you catch that? It was in prison—one of the most painful, uncertain seasons in Joseph’s life—that God chose to fulfill Joseph’s dream years before. God used Joseph’s pain to bring him to a position to save not only Egypt, but the entire nation of Israel. Joseph profoundly states in Genesis 50:20,
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (NLT)
Fast forward hundreds of years and we see Mary, the mother of Jesus, exiled from her home, ridiculed by her community, and giving birth in a dirty stable to the heavenly promise of our Creator-Redeemer. I’m not only reminded of the physical pain she must have gone through while giving birth, but the emotional pain she might have experienced as she chose to believe and trust that God’s word would come to pass, while nay-sayers mocked and questioned her.
I’m also reminded of the cross—even Christ Himself was not spared the emotional and physical pain as He bore the sins of the world and died for you and me. He was the promise, and yet He experienced excruciating pain on the cross.
Friends, if you’re reading this and it’s been a painful season for you, my hope and prayer is that your spiritual eyes have been opened to see that God is working it all out for your good (Romans 8:28). The pain you feel right now will not last forever and I believe it’s being used for something greater. Your promise is on the other side of this valley and you have a Savior who will walk you through it, every step of the way.
This Christmas season, take heart knowing you are not alone in your pain—in fact, you are in good company.
Many Christmas blessings to you and your family.
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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