Pain Will Not Have the Last Word
Words by Sarah Walton
Pain has taken its toll on me—physically, emotionally, and mentally. The damage isn’t always visible on my face or in my words, but it’s always there, tempting me to view everything through the lens of an aching heart and a weary spirit.
No one lives this life untouched. We all experience the brokenness and frailty of this world in one way or another. Whether we face daily disappointments, an aging body, a life-altering illness, abuse, broken relationships, or loss, the pain we experience becomes woven into the fabric of our lives. It changes us, sometimes leaving us with scars or a limp.
I know all too well that suffering leaves its scars. Some are visible, while some lie hidden within the fabric of my being. Multiple scars on my ankle remind me that I can no longer physically do so much of what I used to love. Another scar will be left from the PICC line put in my arm to treat my chronic illness. But it’s the scars deep within—the ones no one can see—that have threatened my hope and joy in the greatest way.
I’m a woman who carries scars from various forms of abuse, and who struggles not to view all relationships through untrusting eyes. I’m a mother who carries scars from unknowingly passing on my illness to each of my four children. And I’m a fallen human being who carries scars from my own sinful choices.
But for every child of God, sin, pain, and scars will not have the last word. By God’s grace, they can become blessed evidence of what Christ has redeemed, and will redeem, through the scars he received for us on the cross (Is. 53:5).
Life from Our Deepest Wounds
As we carry the scars of this world’s brokenness, while dressed in the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ, we will come to understand and believe these words of Paul more deeply: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Our suffering and scars are not only temporary. They are also preparing us for something greater. Something eternal. Something unimaginable.
But how do we not lose heart when pain rocks our foundation and strips away everything we had hoped for in this world? We do so by anchoring ourselves on the solid foundation of God’s faithfulness (rather than our own ability and understanding), trusting that he will bring new life out of even our deepest wounds. We must learn to look at our scars through the scars of Christ, and our temporary pain (despite how eternal it feels) through the promise of the eternal glory that God is preparing for us.
The pain and the scars it has left may not disappear in our lifetime, but the growth and maturity that shine forth from Christ’s healing work in our lives will begin to magnify his worth and increase our anticipation for the eternal healing that is to come. We become walking testimonies of an unshakable hope—one that is greater than this world has to offer and one this world cannot take from us.
One day, scars will be no more, broken minds and bodies will be made whole, the battle against sin will cease, and our faith will finally become sight in the presence of our Savior.
When the pain in your life feels like too much to bear, and the scars you carry appear too great to heal, fight the enemy’s lies with the truth of Christ’s healing power—both present and to come. Fix your eyes on our faithful Savior, the One who loved you and me enough to receive his own scars in order to bring healing to ours. As John Piper writes in his poem on Job,
“What we have lost God will restore,
When he is finished with his art,
The silent worship of our heart.
When God creates a humble hush,
And makes Leviathan his brush,
It won’t be long until the rod,
Becomes the tender kiss of God.”
A Stronger Voice
The enemy taunts us in our pain, You will never be free. Think of all there is to fear. Wallow in your guilt and self-pity. Give way to the hopelessness that grips you, for I have stolen all that is good, beautiful, and worth fighting for.
But our Savior says, “Fear not, my child, for you are mine. I bought you with a price and will not let you go. Pain will come, but it will not win, for I have conquered sin and death. I will redeem your life, for those who take refuge in me will not be condemned. Though I have allowed this pain, it will not have the last word. I will carry you through it and show you the treasures I have stored up for you along the way. Do not lose heart—my grace is sufficient for you.
“The enemy is a liar, but I tell you the truth: I began a good work in you, and I will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6). My strength is greater than your pain, my steadfast love casts out all fear, and my hope is greater than your losses. Lift your eyes, weary child, and rest in my strong arms.”
Sarah Walton is a stay-at-home mom with four kids under eleven years of age. She is the author, along with Kristen Wetherell, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). After more than a decade of trials and learning to walk with Christ as her family navigates Lyme Disease, special needs, and many other challenges, she shares how the gospel speaks into all areas of our lives and gives hope to our suffering. She blogs at Setapart.net and is a contributing writer at Desiringgod.org, Reviveourhearts.com, and Unlockingthebible.org.
Previously posted on Desiringgod.org