Can God use my pain?

By Jessica Brodie

I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who’s not experienced some sort of trauma. Whether we’re in our early twenties or in our sixties, we’ve all been through things that bring us to our knees. These could be horrible, debilitating, life-threatening physical blows, or battles that occur on the inside, such as emotional and spiritual warfare. Whatever the circumstance, I’m pretty sure none of us is a stranger to a low. And in that low, we’ve come face-to-face with our Creator God.

The other day, a new friend told me about some really difficult things she’d gone through. At the end of that season in her life, someone asked whether she’d be willing to share her story before the congregation at her church. Without hesitation, she said “yes.”

The person who’d invited her was surprised at how readily she agreed, for her story was deeply personal, and she hadn’t talked about it much even with those closest to her.

Her response? “God is going to use our stories one way or the other. He can use them better if we are willing to share them.”

Such wisdom.

During really hard times in my own life, I remember feeling like I needed to wear a mask and pretend I had it all together in spite of the turmoil churning inside me. I’d cry my eyes out in solitude, then put on cucumber slices to chase away the puffiness, slap on mascara and red lipstick, and face the day with a smile. I needed to be strong and brave, after all—I couldn’t let anyone know how much pain I was dealing with! Or could I?

We all get through difficulties the best way we can—sometimes with support from anyone willing to offer, sometimes by confiding in a close friend or two, sometimes internalizing it until the tough season passes and things are OK again.

But after the hardship, after we’ve been through the fire with Jesus by our side, been to that dark place of loneliness and fear knowing only God paved our way out, that’s the time to share His triumph in all the ways we possibly can.

Here’s why: the hardships we go through are called “blessings in disguise” for a reason. They draw us closer to God, serve as teaching tools—you name it, He can use it. After all, as the Bible says, “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 CEB).

So then it follows that hiding our “valley” experiences—repressing them, burying them down deep, storing them away, trying to erase them as though they never happened—is tantamount to hiding the evidence of God’s glory.

In the Parable of the Coins, from the Gospel of Matthew (25:14-30), Jesus shares about three servants whose master has given them bags of valuable coins. To one the master gave five bags, and this servant put the bags to work and earned five more. To another he gave two bags, and this servant did the same, gaining two more. But the third, who was given one bag, chose instead not to put the money to work. Instead he dug a hole and buried the money. The master praised the first two, who used their gifts well, but chastised the one who chose not to use his gift, calling him evil and lazy and condemning him to the darkness. 

If our hardships are truly a blessing in the disguise—as indeed they are—let’s not bury them. Let’s share them so others may see God at work in our hearts and lives and see His ultimate triumph.

Let’s share them so others can know the Good News and join us in eternal life.

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