Three Ways to Grow in a Season of Pain

Friend, if life has plunged you in darkness right now, I want to encourage you and share with you three spiritual disciplines to grow in a season of pain. Seasons of intense suffering, pain, and sorrow provide the perfect soil for the growth of our faith, endurance, character, and hope.

Our Season of Pain and Unmet Expectations  

There comes a moment in our faith walk when we get profoundly confused and frustrated about God’s actions or lack of reaction in our lives. When we simply can’t reconcile God’s love and the intense pain we experience.

We can’t understand why He didn’t come through and gave us the desired good outcome. Suddenly, we find ourselves thrown at the bottom of a dark pit, surrounded exactly by the things we want to avoid: intense physical or emotional pain, despair, grief, anxiety, loneliness.

We struggle to grasp our unexplainable suffering. Frustration, doubt, and anger fuel our thought and pain-ridden questions. We are like the prophet Jeremiah who complains to God, “We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there is only terror.” (Jeremiah 8:15 NIV)

The most painful thing is that we feel betrayed in our expectations to receive something good by following and serving the Lord.

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Three Ways to Grow in a Season of Pain

To Grow in a Season of Pain We Need a New Perspective

What are we to make of our situation? Doesn’t God love us anymore? Does He want to punish us for something? Friend, I want to encourage you that quite the opposite is the case.

The Lord loves us and wants to bless us with good beyond our imagination. The highest good He could bless us is with Him Himself and the precious gift of deeper fellowship and intimacy with Him. Compared to all other things and people we desire and will eventually lose, this is something we will never lose and can enjoy forever.

We need to adjust our perspective if we are going to endure suffering with patience and get out of the pit. Pits, lion’s dens, blazing fires, shipwrecks–they all have something in common. They expose our greatest fears and our lesser loves. We get stripped of our greatest fears and our lesser loves.

Suffering forces us to grow in the purest fear–the fear of the Lord and to invest in our greatest love–the love for God and all things He holds in high esteem.  

God wants to bless us with the highest good: the precious gift of deeper fellowship and intimacy with Him. #blessing #faith #encouragement #bgbg2 Click To Tweet

Three Ways to Grow in a Season of Pain

There are three ways or spiritual disciplines that help us cooperate with God’s purpose for growth and spiritual formation in a season of pain. These are: directing our hopes to God’s prophetic vision and promises, the discipline of lamenting, and the discipline of rejoicing in the Lord.

A huge part of our suffering comes from unmet expectations and hopes. We long for something and we have usually a preconceived script for how God will meet our needs or what the desired outcome will look like. It is natural to feel disappointed and even betrayed in our hopes when God does not follow our script.

Let’s remember that God is good at being God and humble ourselves. We can not tame God, and it is not wise to predict His actions. But it is wise and recommendable to direct our hopes for a better world and better selves to God’s prophetic vision and promises revealed in His word. Because this is a hope for which we have a guarantee.

The Spiritual Discipline of Lament

The second spiritual discipline is learning to lament. Lamenting is expressing our pain and sorrow while remaining hopeful. It is grieving in another way, “not like the rest of mankind, who have no hope”. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Lamentations is a gift in our inexpressible struggles–a way to reconcile our pain with our faith, to give a voice to our suffering, yet still hanging on to our faith. The tears we shed are precious rain for growing deeper roots. We need both the rain of blessings and the rain of tears if we are to spread deeper roots in Christ–our eternal Rock.

Lamentations is a gift in our inexpressible struggles–a way to reconcile our pain with our faith, to give a voice to our suffering, yet still hanging on to our faith. #lament #pain #faith #suffering #bgbg2 Click To Tweet

The Spiritual Discipline of Rejoicing

God’s Word is also full of exhortations to rejoice in the Lord, to rejoice always, to rejoice in various troubles and trials. Joy is the healthy nutrient we need to grow. We practice joy when we consciously yield to God and let ourselves be rejuvenated and refreshed constantly in His presence.

We grow even and mostly in our season of pain when we are nourished by the joys of the righteous life and the intimate fellowship with the Lord. “Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.” (Psalm 91:11-12 NIV)

Do you want to learn more about seasons of pain and spiritual maturity? Check out my interview with Ashley Moore on her podcast Be the Two!

Your Turn

Are you in a season of pain? Which of these three ways to grow spoke mostly to you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. If you found this article helpful, I would love it if you share it on social media. Thanks!

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Three spiritual disciplines that help us cooperate with God's purpose for growth and spiritual formation in a season of pain. #growth #spiritualgrowth #pain #spiritualpractice Click To Tweet
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20 Replies to “Three Ways to Grow in a Season of Pain”

  1. I shall be sharing. I love the point about lamenting to God and while remaining hopefully. It still reminds me of a number of stories in the Bible.

    I shall be sharing this post with those in my network.

  2. Your words are so heartfelt and insightful. I think to grow in a season of pain is to find the strength and resolve to accept what’s out of our hands. As usual, so much inspiration in your work. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much, friend! Yes, finding the strength to surrender and accept our circumstances and suffering is definitely a necessary step leading to growth and transformation.

  3. I’m learning more about the discipline of lamenting and how to grow in a season of pain. Especially in long seasons of waiting and learning how to maintain gratitude and hope through depression and disappointment. I agree that we can maintain that peace and joy that pass understanding through continually coming to God.

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing your thoughts and experience! Yes, it is a discipline on its own to give to maintain gratitude and hope through depression and disappointment. I am in such a season now and it is a struggle. But it is also a choice. If I choose faith and trust, God provides the strength to live and move on.

    1. Thanks, Tamy! I am learning to lament in the current season of my life without losing hope. It is quite challenging but also greatly rewarding.

  4. I certainly identify with everything you’ve written here. I’m grieving the loss of an adult child, my only daughter. The Lord gave us a supernatural ability to stand firm in our faith, not wavering, and praying for 2 months in the ICU after her accident. Even in the months after her death I found peace in knowing that even though our life on earth was cut short, that we had eternity to be together. Starting about 1 year out and up until today, 2 and a half years out, I began to realize that my prayer life was suffering. When I pray, my thoughts go to that script I wrote in the ER where Kim would miraculously recover from a near death experience and her testimony would lead thousands of people to Christ. I keep wondering why even pray if God has it all planned out for us? It’s not that I don’t want God’s will for my life, I guess I just think my prayers don’t matter. I know in my heart I’m wrong but I’m struggling to get past it. I want God to tell me why Kim being gone was His plan.

    1. Oh, Linda, I am so sorry, my heart is aching for you! I just want to hold you and weep together with you. I lost my husband last year after two and half weeks in ICU. I know what it means to wait and pray for a miracle, that never came. I know how devastating that is. It is not just the terrible loss, it is a severe blow on our faith and the confidence in God’s goodness and love! Linda, hear me out: don’t pull back from God, push through the pain towards Him, draw near. Trust His sovereignty and wisdom, trust His ability and willingness to redeem your suffering. These are the things I am reminding myself when my heart searches for answers and comfort. Praying for you, you are not alone!

      1. Thank you so much for your prayers. Sometime it is healing to put words to your pain and know others have been or are in the same place.

        1. You are so right, my friend! I keep you in my prayers, and please, feel free to reach out to me whenever you need to talk. I think the community of fellow sufferers who are able not only to sympathize but also to empathize with our pain is a great gift from God.

  5. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that things look different from God’s viewpoint than they do from ours. But we know He is good and wise and trustworthy and has a reason for everything He allows.

    1. Thanks, Barbara! These are really wise words! Yes, when we are in pain and suffering, it is crucial to remember who God is and continue to trust His love and wisdom.

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! Yes, it is helpful to remind ourselves that Jesus is the Suffering Servant and He promised to comfort all who mourn.

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