The Pain for Peace Exchange

Just yesterday I was talking to a person and we were commiserating about the fact that the longer we live the less we know. This observation was generated out of a mutual confession of perplexity with regard to recent painful disappointment he had suffered. Some things in life, especially painful circumstances beyond our control, the unfixable of life, eclipse our understanding. Like the moon passing before the sun, or cloudy skies blocking its warming rays, there are times when we do not comprehend the whys and wherefores of life. Such darkness can make it difficult to find our way.

It is necessary to be reminded that understanding the reasons for our lot in life is not necessarily the solution to our problems. While there is a tendency in all of us to grapple with the “why” question, sometimes it serves only to prolong our pain. One thing is certain, pain and suffering are an ever present part of the human condition. Not only does our experience testify to this, but an examination of the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God confirms it. Isaiah the prophet predicted hundreds of years before His birth that He would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) And the writer of Hebrews tells us years after His death, burial and resurrection that He “learned obedience from the things He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

If Jesus had to deal with pain and suffering in His life, how much more do we? In fact Paul the apostle tells us that our suffering in some mysterious way is meant to compliment and complete the sufferings of Christ. (Romans 8:17 & Colossians 1:25)

3 Tipping Points for Change

People who willingly make major positive changes in their lives share one thing in common. They have tapped into the power of motivation.

From personal experience, observation of other people’s lives and my study of scriptures I have come to this conclusion. Most defining changes in people lives can be attributed to one or more of three powerful motivations. Those motivations are love, truth and pain. They provide the primary tipping points for life change.

Three of the most radical changes in my life can each be attributed to one of these three motivations. Giving up a carefree single life to pursue the heart of my now wife of forty years was motivated by love – a love that began with a first sight meeting at the top of a stairs. Surrendering my life and future to the Lordship of Jesus Christ was motivated by truth that I discovered in studying the Bible – revealing that He was indeed the Son of God. And moving on to a new career would never have happened if I had not been so engulfed in the pain and frustration of a dead end job. Nothing motivates like being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

One of the great benefits of being a pastor is that over the years I have had the privilege of seeing God radically change the lives of many people. The before and after snapshots are stunning, particularly of those whose former selves were marked by addictions and destructive behavior. Interestingly enough, each person’s testimony almost always can be traced to an initial motivation to change and embrace Christ because of an encounter with God’s unfailing love, an undeniable truth or an unrelenting pain.

To test this theory, think about your own life and the significant changes you have made for the better. What brought you to a tipping point of change? What motivated you to take radical steps to give up the old in order to embrace the new?

The Gospels provide us many examples of how God uses love, truth and pain to motivate people to make major changes in their lives.

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