Have you ever had moments when a blessing in your life doesn’t exactly feel like a blessing? Maybe you’re going through a life transition that you know is good. But it still hurts.
Maybe it’s packing your car to send your baby off to college. It’s a good thing. Leaving home is a natural step in your child’s process to becoming an adult. But that doesn’t make it easy.
Maybe it’s a career shift. Your new job is something you’ve wanted. But the transition feels a bit more painful and terrifying than you dreamt of.
Or maybe it’s something even harder and more painful. It could be the passing of a loved one who is no longer suffering. You saw the pain they were in and you know they are no longer living in that pain. They’ve gone to be with Jesus. But that doesn’t mean it feels like a blessing for you.
To feel pain during moments of blessing doesn’t make you any less spiritual or less faithful. It just means you’re human. And yet again, you are reminded how desperately you need Jesus–in the blessings and in the trials.
Dale and I have experienced what could be defined as a great season of blessing. But my own experience of this season has been struggle and pain. A little over a year ago, our lives were dramatically changed when our first child was born. Silas has Dale’s humor and my love for a good party. We’re eager to see the love and bond that will develop over the years with Silas’ brother, who is expected to join the family in a few months. Like I said, a great season of blessing.
Yet among the bounty of blessing, I’m currently enduring one of the greatest battles for my mental health. Amidst the beauty of new life, I’ve been dealing with the great struggle of postpartum depression. As I’m sure many mothers would understand, it seems so counter to the experience you’re supposed to have when welcoming new life into the world.
Whether or not you can relate to PPD, I’m imagining you can relate to the experience of enduring pain when you know you should be celebrating the joy of a blessing. Moments like these come at some point in each of our lives.
So here are 3 reminders for when you’re experiencing pain in the midst of blessing.
1. Remember that God genuinely desires your good.
In the depths of pain and struggle, we tend to lose sight of the goodness of God.
From a cognitive perspective, you may know that he desires good for you. And in case that isn’t as clear to you, just think about the fact that he sent his Son to die on your behalf. This is the measure to which God loved you: he would sacrifice his Son in order for you to step into an everlasting relationship with him.
This is one of the first things we learn about God. Alongside his love is his absolute hatred for sin, but we have to hold the tension of these two at all times. But scripture is very clear that God genuinely loves and desires good for his children.
This is a truth that Jesus reminds us of in his most famous sermon.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
The image being painted in here is of God’s desire to care for his children. His desire is to care for you. If even an imperfect father, who has evil and wickedness in his heart, would give good things to his son, then how much more is God’s desire to provide good in your life?
Pay attention to this simple truth: seasons of pain in the midst of blessing are not God’s way of teaching you a lesson.
Pain in your life isn’t God’s way of punishing you and tormenting you for the sin you’ve committed. That’s not how God works. But even the most beautiful rose is covered in thorns. This is a result of the fallen state of our world, not the cruel facetiousness of God. We must stand on the everlasting character of God and not allow the pain and hurt to sell us lies.
Certainly, God will use life situations and trials to grow you, stretch you, and transform you to be more like Jesus. But God is not withholding good to teach you a lesson or covering his blessing in booby traps to see if you’re worthy. He genuinely desires good for you. You must cling to this truth as the enemy tries to sneak in every other lie imaginable.
2. Keep blessing in perspective.
Some popular faith movements have really taken the word “blessing” and turned it into something icky. So much so that Christians are hesitant to use the word at all. This is really unfortunate because God does bless his people.
The issue has become how we understand blessing. Does blessing mean a bigger house, exceptional health? More money in your bank account? Not exactly. God can give you those things, of course. But that’s not the biblical understanding of blessing.
The understanding of God’s desire to bless his people begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. But one of the clearest pictures of blessing is in the Beatitudes, which are found in Matthew 5:1-12. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read through these verses.
The biblical definition of blessing seems counter to our understanding of blessing. We know it’s not a fullness of material wealth. But we also don’t see how Matthew 5 could be considered a blessing. The thing about God’s blessing is that it’s wrapped up in him, not just wrapped in the things he gives. The blessing is actually him, and contentment in our relationship with him.
God uses the things in our lives to bring us close to him. He uses the life moments like children, relationships, careers, and the many other things we count as good. Not for us to focus on those things, but for them to lead us to him.
Our greatest blessing is not when we receive good things. It’s when we can draw closer to God and find true happiness in him. This is why even bad situations in life can turn into some of the greatest blessings we ever experience.
The biblical understanding of blessing has never been about the situation or the good thing to come, it’s always been about God.
Even if the good things in your life feel more like pain, you can count that as a blessing. The reason why is because it can lead you further into the arms of Jesus. It will allow you–or even push you–to depend on him more and more.
3. Remain obedient through the pain.
Pain and trouble have a way of making us want to abandon ship. It might be because you just want relief. You genuinely don’t see a point in pressing forward. Or the lasting opposition makes you doubt the road you are on. These are all very real life experiences and have some validity.
But one of the greatest ways to respond to pain in the midst of blessing is to remain obedient. Remain steadfast in your relationship to Jesus. Continue to cry out to him with your pain, frustration, and disappointment. He’s a big God and can handle whatever it is you have to say. Just read through the lament psalms and you will see that even the greatest of believers had ugly and raw prayers.
Part of being obedient is diving deeper into your communication with Jesus, rather than pulling away and going silent. God might be asking you to walk through something hard and you may not understand why. Even in your questioning and sorting through it, remain obedient.
The greatest example I know of when someone faithfully walked through the pain to see the full blessing on the other end was Jesus.
The road to Calvary was not pain free. In fact, it was quite literally the opposite. Jesus asked if there was another way. And when it became clear that there was no other way, he stayed the course and remained obedient. On the other end of his obedience was the greatest blessing the world has ever seen.
God isn’t calling you to save the world through your pain. Jesus already did that. God is calling you to stay obedient in spite of your pain. I don’t know what obedience in the midst of your pain looks like, but I know it’s a calling you and I both share.
Sometimes there’s pain in the blessing. But we can’t let the pain rob us of seeing what it is that God has for us. Just be obedient with one thing at a time. The next step of obedience will become clear as you step into the one thing you know to do now. Just keep taking step after step in obedience. This is the journey God is calling you to.
Pain in life is a given. So is God’s goodness.
There are many seasons in life when blessings seem to be wrapped in pain. We live in a fallen world where sin is the air we breathe. This means that even the purest and most beautiful of life moments are not free of the effects of sin.
I wish it weren’t this way and one day, it won’t be.
But until that day comes, Jesus is walking with us through the pain and we will see the beauty of the blessing.