"In my belief, God doesn't waste pain on anyone."
I leaned back in my seat, tipped my head to one side, and stared at this man who has struggled through so much in his life. A man still smiling with a look of peace on his face after so much hardship. The man who just told me pain isn't a waste. My patient.
I'm the nurse.
And yet, day after day, shift after shift, hour after hour, I'm healed by the people I'm here to help. People that show me, no matter how ugly things get, no matter how knock-down-drag-out the fight, life not only goes on. It becomes beautiful again. I needed that reminder today. Today when a dear, beautiful patient of mine lost her fight. When I knew her family was standing over a casket shedding tears over a life they could only mourn and question. I needed the reminder and healing as nurse that only a patient who has regained hope could give me.
And I'm reminded we are here to not only survive. We were meant to thrive.
"God doesn't waste pain on anyone."
So what do we do when we are overwhelmed with pain and burden? I've learned we have a couple options. We can pray and ask for strength. We can find people that are shoulders to lean on. We can search for the purpose and meaning behind it. Or we can waste our pain.
When I started looking at it in those terms, everything changed. I've heard, and thought, time and time again how unfair life can be. Why me? Why him? Why her? Why, why why? But how many times have I stopped and thought that I was being given a gift. A true gift of invaluable measure.
That same man that told me he believes God does not waste pain on anyone told me, "Say you lose a mom. You could turn around re-gift that loss as a love for other people who go through losses too. And you care more."
I struggled with deep depression for many of my junior high/high school years. And while I don't regret that experience because it serves me well in my current line of work (psychiatric nurse), I don't know that I ever thought of it as an ability to re-gift my loss by making it love. And I LOVE that. Maybe...just maybe...it's possible we can cherish our own unique journey of pain because that perilous road gave us an opportunity to reap gifts we can pass on. Beautiful light that can shine from our scars and light the way for others.
"God doesn't waste pain on anyone."
In 2004, I was sitting in the bleachers at a volleyball tournament watching a game. One of our rival teams was sitting in the bleachers next to me. One of the girls looked at me and said, "I don't get you guys." [I went to a Christian school.] "How can you believe that God loves us when He screws with our lives in awful ways." First of all, I was shocked at her anger and bluntness. But after fumbling around for an answer, I finally lamely blurted out, "Maybe God allows pain in some of our lives so it points us in the right direction." She rolled her eyes. "Like what."
"...Like back to Him?"
Ten years later, her question still haunts me because I wish I would have had a better answer. I can still picture her face (and maybe she'll read this by some bizarre miracle).
I would tell her, that thanks to a man who by all outwards appearances had lost everything, I view pain as a gift to point us to God if we're in need of Him. Pain as a gift to regift to others. And pain as a gift to embrace for ourselves when we need the healing gifts it brings.
And I would tell her life isn't fair. Because if it was, we would never even have the opportunity to be on earth experiencing pain and have the opportunity to find Christ and spend eternity with Him.
Because the only wasted pain anyone can go through is what they choose. Pain is purpose. Pain is meaning.
And I won't waste my pain. Or the scars I bear that can help those that come behind me.
God doesn't waste pain on anyone.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
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. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.