How To Preach In Pain
How To Preach In Pain
In the last post we began talking about the subject of preaching through pain. Today we continue that discussion, but this time exploring how you do it. Learning how to preach in pain is vital for every person who preaches on a regular basis. In this post we will begin looking at how you can preach in pain when the circumstances of life are weighing on you.
Unfortunately, there are some wings of the church that say that sickness or problems are never God’s will for us. Sickness should give way to faith. Poverty should disappear when met with faith and a “seed gift” to the right ministry. Problems should yield to the prayer of faithful people.
I worked with a couple who had a child born with multiple disabilities many years ago. Some Christian leaders suggested to them that they were the problem. They needed to confess their sin of lack of faith, and then pray in faith for healing. Then, their child would be healed. Imagine their devastation! Behind the counsel of these church leaders is the belief that God never allows such a child to be born unless there is some punishment for sin.
Pain is normal
I usually try to keep from criticizing other faith expressions, but the reality that the Bible describes is quite different from this attitude. Consider Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians in the third chapter of his first letter to them. He wrote:
2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.
Or this statement from I Peter 4:
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
A broken world
When you are learning how to preach in pain because of your circumstances, know that this is just the way it is in a broken, fallen world. God didn’t promise a perfect life until we all get to heaven.
Look for what God is teaching you
Another tip for learning how to preach in pain is to consider what you can learn from the hurt you are facing. John Piper, in his talk about Charles’ Spurgeon’s pain, referred to in the last post, quotes Spurgeon’s reflection on pain:
“I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable…Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in the minister’s library.” (The Anguish and Agonies of Charles’ Spurgeon, p. 25).
Paul understood this well when he reflected on his own thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
He realized that even though the thorn was the messenger of Satan, that there was a lesson to learn about the sufficiency of God’s power, as well as his own pride.
Lessons to learn
There are many potential lessons in pain. C.S. Lewis describes pain as God’s “megaphone” to the world. In his book, The Problem of Pain, he says,
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. Godwhispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” … Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt.” p. 91
So, what is his megaphone saying to you? What lessons are you paying attention to?
We’ll continue this subject of how to preach in pain in the next post.
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