Over the past few years, God has done a lot of healing in my heart. And I mean A LOT. But from time to time, a fresh little wave of pain will hit me, seemingly out of nowhere. A distant memory is conjured up. A comment stirs feelings that I thought were long ago put to bed.

When this happens, my reaction is typically to become frustrated, because pain feels like the opposite of progress. Pain feels like something’s wrong, like something should be dealt with that hasn’t (at least, not adequately enough).

Tonight I was thinking about God’s ways are infinitely higher than ours, and how His plans for us sometimes include pain–not to harm us, but for our own good. Despite my inclination to think otherwise, pain is not always a bad or harmful thing. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re not making progress.

If you are diagnosed with cancer and the doctor recommends chemotherapy, it’s for your own good. That doesn’t negate the often painful side effects of chemo, nor does it mean that the chemo’s not working if you’re feeling sick as a result. Despite the side effects, it can bring about healing.

Even if you’re healthy, maintaining a healthy body is not easy. Exercise can be painful, time consuming and not always fun. But that doesn’t mean it’s not yielding good results. The pain is bringing about progress.

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of pain producing something good is childbirth. Labor pains are no picnic (so I’ve been told). But they’re not meaningless–they serve to bring forth life.

Pain is not the opposite of progress. Quite often, they go hand in hand, as God uses pain not to harm us or punish us but to help bring forth healing and new life within us.

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