God will never disappoint us. He loves us and has only one purpose for us: holiness, which in His kingdom equals joy. —Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline: The Glad Surrender
My first years of life were spent in England at a place called Capernwray Hall. We had livestock and gardens, and one day, to my horror, they put cow poop on my vegetables.
“What are you doing?” I cried.
“Manure helps the garden grow,” one of the gardeners replied.
I’m convinced that pain is like manure. It stinks, no one wants it on them, but it helps us grow.
Once we’ve acknowledged that life’s painful circumstances aren’t God’s punishment for our sins, then we can discover the benefits of pain. Sometimes, God sees pain enter the lives of His kids, and he knows that it can bring growth.
God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10b)
Holiness here isn’t referring to perfection—complete forgiveness is already ours through the sacrifice of Jesus. The holiness referenced here is the holiness of behavior.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13)
I know pain can make us feel weak and defeated, but we aren’t defeated. To see pain as fertilizer is to recognize its value. And to bask in God’s ability while we’re feeling utterly unable, is to live like we believe the promise:
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
Written differently: realize that the manure can produce an abundant harvest.
Jesus, I prefer to avoid pain, but what I’ve heard from You is that pain not only has a purpose, but it can nourish and strengthen my soul. May I rest in that promise. Amen.