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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Your Pain Could Be Someone's Salvation

Melinda Means - Author

I couldn’t understand it. I was organizing a large event as part of my job. I was down to the last few weeks where everything gets crazy and frantic, no matter how well you plan.

Then, out of nowhere, with no “injury” or strain or apparent reason, I was hit with a new, incredibly painful bout of my chronic back pain.

Really, God? Right now? What could possibly be the good or the purpose of this pain? After nearly 20 years of chronic pain and illness, I was tired of learning lessons. I was weary of character building. 

My doctor referred me to a physical therapist. He was kind of a “tough guy”, but caring and funny — just the kind of “medicine” you need from a provider when you’re in pain. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was an author and Women’s Director at my church. He seemed intrigued and began asking questions about my church, my writing, and my faith.

He explained that he was Jewish. He believed there was a God, but didn’t really go to church. And he had big problems with believing Jesus was the Messiah. We had some interesting dialogue about prophecy and Jesus' life. A few sessions went by without much discussion about the spiritual.

At my last therapy session, he was telling me some stories of his wild youth. Then, he said, “You probably wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with me. But I really was a nice Jewish boy.”

“Jesus was a nice Jewish boy, too,” I responded.

“Yes, He was.” He thought for a moment and said, “Let’s talk about that.”

I sensed that the Holy Spirit was up to something.

He began asking deep, thoughtful questions. I was able to answer them in ways I know I don’t possess the ability to do on my own.

His next patient “happened” to cancel. So for nearly an hour, we had this incredible exchange where he asked penetrating questions and I laid out the entire message of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Finally, he said, “I have a Christian friend who hits me over the head with this stuff. He gets so angry. You are so passionate and so sure, but you’re not angry. You just really believe.”

“I do.”

“Do they talk about stuff like this at your church?”

“Yep. They sure do. Do you want to come?”

“You know what? Yes. I’m coming to church." He went out to the other room and told all the other therapists, "I’m going back to church!”

As I left, he said, “I just wish I could be as sure as you are.”

I told him about Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)

This “tough guy” — with tears in his eyes — gave me hug.

I haven't seen my friend at my church. I don’t know what happened in his heart that day. I do know that encounter was real, divinely appointed, and significant. We both knew it.

I also know that if he continues to search, he will find Truth. In the meantime, God will continue to pursue him personally and passionately — just as He does each of us.

Sometimes our pain is not about us. The trials that we go through are not just about lessons we need to learn. Consider the words Paul wrote to Timothy as he sat in chains in prison: "... But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen." 2 Timothy 2:9-10 (NLT)

Maybe sometimes our pain is about a gentle “tough guy” that needs to hear about the love of Jesus.

In that case, thank God for my aching back.

Excerpt from Invisible Wounds: Hope While You're Hurting, Copyright 2016 Melinda Means. Used by permission. 

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