On a day of volunteering at a ministry that provides food to people in need, I was able to see clearly how God uses pain in our lives. As I stood next to a table that had a variety of delicious foods, I picked up a pie and handed it to a sweet, young mom. Tears came streaming down her face as she saw the abundance of food we were giving her family. The pie seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or to put it in better words: It was the pie that touched the mother’s heart. She was obviously deeply touched by the generosity of God through this ministry.
Through her tears, she began telling me that her small children had been without enough food to fill their tummies the previous week. While she was sharing her heart, I was overcome with weepy emotions. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I embraced her tightly. Her story was taking my mind back to the time when I was experiencing a difficult circumstance similar to hers.
As I remembered my pain, I told her, “It will get better with God’s help; I promise.”
Memories flooded my mind as I hugged her. I thought about the years my husband’s home-based business was struggling and he delivered pizza for less than $7.00 an hour while I was home-schooling our children and working part-time. As I listened to her painful story, I remembered the day when our refrigerator was almost empty and my daughter asked me, “Are we going to starve, Mommy?”
It’s been over eight years since my refrigerator was nearly empty, but I won’t ever forget the ache in my heart during those painful days. A mother’s heart breaks when she fears that her child’s needs are in jeopardy.
Looking back, it was one of the most difficult times, but also one of the most essential seasons of my life. It was the season when God began birthing a deep compassion inside my heart for hurting people. Through those trials, God was preparing me for my life’s purpose. He was cultivating in me an understanding of those in need that I would have never gained without experiencing the heartache myself.
Christ revealed Himself as the mighty Rescuer. He came to our rescue within hours of my daughter asking if we were going to starve. We saw God’s grace over and over during our struggles to make ends meet. During our hardships, I saw the proof that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us.
As I stood there with the young mom, gathering her boxes of food, her pain felt as though it were my own. The compassion in my heart enabled me to encourage her and ensure her that Christ would take care of her every need the way He had done for me. My words helped to wash the tears away from her eyes and I watched hope rise up in her soul.
Now I have a better understanding of why the Bible urges us to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds. Trials are necessary in this life. Without them, we wouldn’t grow more compassionate. Compassion is the fuel that drives us to help the ones God allows to cross our paths — without it, we would feel like robots going through the motions of praying and helping others.
There is a divine purpose to our pain. A child of God is created to display the compassionate heart of Christ and to be His very helping hands to those in need. God fulfills His purposes through our pain. I pray we will embrace it with a willing heart the way Jesus embraced the pain of the cross for our sake.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — James 1:2-4 (New International Version)