Does pain have a purpose?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

I don’t like pain.  If I have a headache, I run for the aspirin. When physical pain arrives my goal is to stop the pain. That’s what the TV commercials tell us, right?

Getting you back to normal – Tylenol
All Day Strong. All Day Long. – Aleve
Advil. Stronger than Pain
Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh what a relief it is – Alka Seltzer

These verses in James challenge me to shift my thinking. Bumping up against difficult people, circumstances beyond our control, physical pain or other hard things isn’t necessarily bad.   I used to pray my children would have an easy life. But, I realize now that won’t do them any favors.

 Faith develops in trials.

Joy comes not because I like what’s happening, but because the trial is developing character in me.  I trust that God is who He says He is – and He will do what He says He will do.

Instead of me needing to control all that is around me,  I can rest my hand in my Father’s loving hand, realizing He is God, my Creator, and Maker. He loves me, and He is all I need no matter what is happening to me on this earth.

I’m not sure we can grow without pain. So, what at first glance looks like an inconvenience, disruption, or worse, is shaping us into the best version of ourselves – if we let it.

I’m thankful for Tylenol and all for enjoying life to its fullest. But, when I run up against the things I can’t or shouldn’t fix I know it’s time to grab my big girl panties. Just because something doesn’t feel like it’s for my best doesn’t mean it isn’t.

The goal isn’t to stop the pain
The goal is to be mature and complete.

Trials develop endurance.  Endurance is the staying power that no matter how hard something is, I won’t give up. Quitting is not an option. Why? Because God is good and will use this for good. Because it will be all worth it one day.

Thank you, Jesus, for the peace in knowing you don’t waste my pain.  Thank you for giving me joy in knowing the things though things seem bad you can use them for good.  I want to be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Thank you for being faithful and loving. I come with open palms knowing you are a good, good Father.

Challenge: One thing that helps me is to write out a verse on a 3×5 card and put it in my pocket.  Reading it throughout the day encourages me and helps me keep a true perspective on my circumstances.  Choose a verse from below or pick your own. Write it on a 3×5 card or use a dry erase marker and write it on the mirror in your bathroom.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Psalm 8:3-4

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalms 136:1


  1. This post echoes my thoughts lately about pain and work and feeling “good.” I often go to the “count it all joy” verse to remind myself that it’s not all about managing my pain or escaping it. Your words are a gentle reminder. The idea that Jesus doesn’t “waste” our pain– thank you. Jesus’ pain is the best example of putting it to use… yes? Also, the idea of not wishing my kids no pain– I really had to hear that.

    • James and I were just talking about how much pain Jesus went through for us. Made us ponder how much we are grace giving to those around us. I find it easier to love on those who “deserve” it. Glad Jesus didn’t only suffer for those who deserved it.

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