Over the last couple of months I have been using a devotional that goes through each of the Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes in a year’s time – My Daily Scripture Devotional, God’s Wisdom for Today. The Psalms have really met me where I am emotionally and have comforted and encouraged me. Tonight I was reading Psalm 31. There were a few verses that caught my attention as being such a clear cry from a grieving heart.
“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.” – Psalm 31:7-9
The author of the devotional for this chapter, Trevor Barton of Hawk Creek Church in London, Kentucky, shared, “When this is our reality, we can’t fix it or undo it. In that moment the only thing to do is trust that God has a plan and a purpose for the pain; we must believe that He will work out all the bad for our good. As David did, cry out for mercy and lean in closer to God.”
“God has a plan and a purpose for the pain.” – When I read these words, they stopped me in my tracks. Since Scott’s death I have wondered what purpose could possibly come from his death and my heart and mind rebelled at the thought – it is hard to put a “price” on a life and that is essentially what we are asking when we ask about a purpose for a death. I think what hit me when I read that sentence was a sense of truth and a need for a shift in my thinking.
Purpose and change do not come from a death or a tragedy. No, purpose and change come from the pain of the circumstances, not the actual circumstances themselves. This is nothing new. Over thousands and thousands of years, many people who have changed the world have made those choices out of pain that they themselves have suffered from loss or tragedy. And over those same thousands and thousands of years God has provided comfort, a plan, and a purpose in the pain. He is no different today than He was yesterday, a thousand years ago, or at the very beginning of time. In reading David’s words in Psalm 31, it is clear that David suffered great pain, yet God brought purpose and change to David’s life because of the pain.
Which mistakes are we most likely to not repeat? The ones that have caused us the most pain. Which mistakes are the ones most likely to change how we do things? The ones that have caused us the most pain. We learn our strongest lessons from pain. No one wants to learn lessons through pain, but when you are in it and it is your reality that can’t be fixed or undone, then we must ask ourselves what God wants to teach us and what good He can bring out of this pain. My deepest desire is to know what God is teaching us on this painful journey and what good He will bring from our deep pain.