People don’t like experiencing pain.
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said, however, that pain is essential in life because this enables people to figure out God’s purpose in their lives.
“Your pain often reveals God’s purpose for you. God never wastes a hurt!” he wrote on his website. “If you’ve gone through a hurt, He wants you to help other people going through a similar hurt. He wants you to share it.”
Warren said God uses people’s personal problems so they can provide a ministry to others. Even the most shameful aspects of one’s life can become the greatest ministry in helping other people.
“Who can better help somebody going through a bankruptcy than somebody who went through a bankruptcy? Who can better help somebody struggling with an addiction than somebody who’s struggled with an addiction?” he asked. “Who can better help parents of a special needs child than parents who raised a special needs child? Who can better help somebody who’s lost a child than somebody who lost a child?”
Warren said people should actually embrace their pain because it’s the very thing that will become the vessel for good. He calls this “redemptive suffering” — a process in which people experience problems or a pain so they can help others.
This is exactly what Jesus Christ did when He chose to die on the cross. Even though He did not deserve to die, He faced it all just so people can experience salvation.
Of course, there are different causes for pain and suffering. “Sometimes the stuff that happens you bring on yourself. When you make stupid decisions, then it causes pain in your life,” said Warren. Maybe people overspent their savings then lost their house, or led an unhealthy lifestyle, then suffered illnesses.
People can’t blame God for the mistakes they’ve heaped on themselves, he said.
But sometimes, they are entirely innocent of their problems. When this happens, Warren hopes they would focus on the good the pain it will bring. “Some of the pain in your life is for redemptive suffering. God often allows us to go through a problem so that we can then help others,” he said.