Have you ever experienced deep pain and the question you keep asking yourself is; What have I done wrong?  What sin am I being punished for?  Your heart is crushed and broken and you don't know which way to turn.  I have been there and asked those same questions.

Physical pain is horrible, but emotional or mental pain tops that one every time.  I have watched people grieve at the bedside of a loved one, at the grave of someone taken away too soon, and stood with people who have had their hearts crushed by broken relationships.

So the question remains: Is your pain punishment from God? 

Here are a few lessons I have learned along the way and I share them with you for your encouragement.

1.  Pain is never a sign of God's absence:  I have come to see pain in a whole new light.  When Paul went for major heart surgery I thought my heart would break.  He was scheduled to be under the knife for fifteen hours.  When he came through the surgery I processed all we had been through as a family and I saw pain in a new way.  Imagine if I did not feel pain?  If I never loved I would never experience pain— and I know I never want to live without love.  If I had not felt agony of soul in my darkest night I would never be able to appreciate the beautiful moments of life. 

2.  Pain can produce amazing results:  Somehow pain has a cathartic effect on my soul.  When you see your loved one slipping away before your eyes all the petty things of life, the things you made such a big deal about, become insignificant and small.  Suddenly you see life as it really is and it has a way of cleansing your soul.  It seems to put everything into perspective and places things in their rightful order. 

3.  God's intentions are never for your harm:  God never intended to harm you, my friend.  Let me assure you that right now, at this moment, His loving arms are waiting for you.  His desire is to embrace and comfort you in your grief. 

4.  Deep beauty is born in the process of pain:  Have you ever looked into the eyes of the frail or elderly?  Ever looked into the eyes of a child who in the eyes of the world is not whole?  Look again!  Look past the physical defects and you will find a beauty so deep and so pure that the clearest crystal stream flowing from a mountainside could not be more beautiful.  That incredible beauty was birthed in the agony of pain and there is no sight to compare.

5.  Out of pain comes a season of joy:  I love the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis.  He was a confident young boy filled with passion and joy for life.  Unfortunately, his brothers did not feel favorable towards him.  The story tells us how they throw him into a pit, and then he is taken as a slave into the household of Potiphar.  Finally, when he thought things could not get any worse he ends up in prison.  What a depressing story?  No!  That is only half the story, my friend.  The other half is the story is of how God took his pain and his hardships and used them not only for his good but for the benefit of his family and his people.

If you are experiencing pain today I beg you not to give up.  There is still so much more of your story to be written.  Out of your pain and agony can come the next chapter of your life which could be the most beautiful.  Pain can teach us so much.  Don't let your pain debilitate you.  Do not allow your pain to cut your story short.  Your pain is not the absence of God, it is the very real presence of Him there with you.  Of this I am confident—your pain could birth the next season of your life.  Embrace your pain and your God and He will see you through.

You are the only author of your story—make it a good one

I am and always will be,

recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,