This life can be so hard.
I remember sitting with a precious woman who had a 2nd trimester abortion in 1974.
We cried together as she shared about her ongoing battle with grief and regret. She still grieves for her baby—and for all the babies who have been horrendously taken from the safety of their mother’s wombs since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973.
As she walks out her story, she is finding hope, healing, and forgiveness—but still. It hurts.
Long after the abortion, memories linger. Like all of us who struggle with the consequences of sinful choices, the temptation to suffer in silence is great. Satan whispers, “You are beyond God’s reach.” Don’t believe it. Nothing is beyond His reach.
God wants your life to sing of His faithfulness and redemption. Redeemed people allow their souls to breathe in God’s inner healing and allow His spirit meets us in the midst of our pain.
I remember another night, Jay and I had dinner with a dear couple who were nearing the end of watching their precious father succumb to Alzheimer’s. Tears flowed as we prayed for God’s peace to flood their hearts and home.
That same evening, I received the news that an amazing young husband had lost his battle with brain cancer. Even in their suffering, his family shared their story. They wrote on Facebook about what it’s like to feel God’s presence in ways they never dreamed. Reading their story reminded me again that this world is not our home. It encouraged me to keep walking. Keep praying. Keep trusting.
Trusting God when things are going well is one thing—trusting Him when things are hard is another.
As a woman who has experienced great suffering, I can tell you that my suffering has become my sermon. Why? Because like the people whose stories I shared briefly about here, I have learned that God uses even, no—especially in suffering to bring about His purposes.
No one can minister to a woman who is considering abortion like a woman who lives with the regret of choosing one herself. I can’t touch the heart of that mom who is losing her husband to cancer like a woman who has walked that road and found God in the midst of her suffering. The woman who has been abused knows how to intercede for a victim of abuse in a significant way.
There is power in the testimony of those who walk through suffering and use it to bring glory to the One who holds all things in His hands.
We may not be immune to suffering, but we do not need to fear it, either.
We do not need to be afraid, because we know that God’s heart toward us is always, ever, only good. Listen to these words from David:
GOD is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
(Psalm 103:8-11 MSG)
As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is His love for those who fear Him. That’s our God. He does not waste anything. No bad decision, no illness, no suffering. He uses it all.
Your pain has a purpose. It is to glorify God.
“Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory”
(Psalm 50:15 NLT).
I promise you—when I sit with a woman who is crippled by anxiety and plagued by nightmares from her past, God is getting glory. Why? Because I found God in the midst of my own struggle. He was there—and His redemptive work in my life has become my life-song.
Does this make our suffering easy? No. But knowing that God is at work behind the scenes brings purpose to pain. God will use whatever He wants to show off His glory: heaven and earth. Nations and presidents. Broken people.
Broken people? Hey wait! That’s me! It makes my heart come alive with hope to know that God wants to use even my pain and struggle. On the days when you don’t have the strength to fight, remember this: God is at work.
You’re beautiful to the One who made you. You were made to sing a song of the redeemed.
You are more than what is hurting you. You belong to God—and He is making all things new.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
(Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
Breathing in His grace with you,
Heidi St. John
8 thoughts on “Finding Purpose in Pain”
I love this post! It’s such a great reminder for me to share what God has brought me through and the things He is still cultivating in my heart so that He might be glorified and seeds will be planted just like when someone comes along side me and shares their victory through the storm. I love it!
Heidi, I can’t tell you how much the post “finding purpose in pain” has touched me and my daughter. As we read it, we are in the hospital. My daughter is 15 and is being treated for migraines. She has already overcome spine surgery at 12, the unexpected death of my brother and then 6 months later his 21yr old son died of a heroin overdose. She then began cutting herself and was diagnosed with ADD, anxiety and depression. Feeling a little of “why me” is creeping in. It was God, that we saw your post when we did. She is a trooper. Your word reminded us that God does have a plan and is in control. We feel we now have the strength to get through this battle. Hope to see you at the Cincinnati homeschool convention.
I’m so sorry, Jeri. I’m so glad you’ve been encouraged, and I’m praying for your relief for your daughter. I won’t be in Cincinnati this year, but we’re working on scheduling on events in your area. Be subscribed to the blog and update your preferences to include your locale, and we’ll email you when we’re coming close!
I kissed my precious perfect baby boy goodbye (or see you later) today and placed him in the arms of Jesus. Talk about pain! Gut wrenching, heart searing, eyeball destroying, there are no words – pain! Please pray that God will keep His promises to be with us in the Valley of the Shadow of Death! Right now it’s not step by step, but breath by breath.
I’m so sorry, Carrie! I’m praying for you right now, and the Lord WILL keep His promises because He always does!
I went to update my subscription and the form deny my update saying my email was already in the system, which I knew that. But I would like the scripture writing as well. Also I just want to thank you for your messages on marriage priorities.
I have been homeschooling for 20+ years and still have 8 years left. I feel a bit burned out. I feel like I am living the same life twice. I need freshest for my younger girls. Please pray for me and I will lift you up as well for your journey ahead.
I updated it for you. Please go to the bottom of any blog or podcast email and click on “update my subscription preferences” at the very bottom and be sure you’re getting what you want to get!
This post is amazing and just confirms everything I’ve been feeling God has been telling me lately. I’ve struggled with sickness for about 3 years now and even though it has been painful, I’ve felt that God is going to use this experience to help other people. Thank you for the encouragement!