Emotional Baggage – The Purifying Power of Pain

My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart.

  • Psalm 38:5-8

We have heard reports about them,
    and our hands hang limp.
Anguish has gripped us,
    pain like that of a woman in labor.

  • Jeremiah 6:24

When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said, ‘Woe to me!  The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’  But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth.  Should you then seek great things for yourself?  Do not seek them.  For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”

  • Jeremiah 45:1-5

Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.”  For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.

  • 2 Samuel 17:14

“Pain can have a purifying power in our lives in that it drives us toward the Lord and his healing power.
“Emotional pain is relentless.
“It nags.
“It gnaws.
“It festers.
“It stays with us until we deal with it.
“Oh, we may attempt to deny our emotional pain or to sublimate it.  All we really succeed in doing, however, is to push the pain deeper into our spirits.  To be truly healed of our pain, we must face it, take it to the Lord, let Him begin a healing work in us, and then choose to live in accordance with what He tells us to do.
“Our failures and our hurts can be a key to discovering who God wants us to be. …
“Choose to turn to His Word.  No matter what I’m feeling – good or bad, encouraged or discouraged – I turn to the Word of God for advice about why I am feeling that way. …
“   1. You’ll know that whatever comes your way is truly from the Lord.  You’ll never have cause to confuse what is of your own engineering and what is a gracious gift from God.
“   2. You’ll be freed from striving for things – from planning and struggling and scheming day in and day out to get the things you need or want.  You’ll be freed of all need to manipulate your circumstances.
“   3. You’ll be freed from all concern about whether you’ve made the right choices or you’ve settled for something that is less than God’s best.
“   4. You’ll be freed in your ability to praise God, for you’ll see His provisions and His providence far more clearly.  You’ll know that He, and He alone, is the Source of your total supply.
“The Christian life is to be lived day by day.  If you have your mind continually engaged in thinking about your long-range goals or ways in which you can achieve, earn, or have something way out yonder, you’ll miss many of today’s blessings. …
“The healing of emotional pain takes time.  God could do the healing work in an instant.  But generally, we need time to absorb His healing work, to understand His work in our lives, and to alter out thought patterns. …
“Let your pain drive you to God today.”

  • Charles Stanley, The Source of my Strength

This concludes our Sunday series on Charles Stanley’s book.  I have written and I have read what others have written about our emotional baggage should never define us, but in a way it does.  As Rev. Stanley says, our failures and hurts can define who God wants us to be.

I have never hidden from the fact that I make mistakes.  I still stumble, but I feel closer to God now than I did before.  Too many people in the church pews do not know God at all, but then there are far too many of the others in the church pews who know God as their Savior and do not know that God can make a real difference in every phase of your life.

Whether we are hanging on to emotional baggage or we are clinging to the “religion” that we were taught as children (maybe some of it wrongly taught to us), we can transcend that level of disconnection with God to have a very real relationship.  And the closer we get to God, the more the emotional baggage and the pain associated with it seems meaningless.  It may help to define who we are and where God wants us to serve Him, but we can thrive without the issues that we may think are insurmountable.

With each of the following questions, the keyword will be bold/italics and a link to the lesson on that topic:

Are you Lonely?  I grew up on a farm ten miles out of town, but as an introvert, I could be lonely in a crowd.  You are never alone with God in your heart.

Are you Fearful?  I have been frightened.  I still feel frightened, and then God reminds me that He has me in His hands and He won’t let go.

Have you been Abused?  Compared to today’s standards of treating children, I was abused, but abuse can mold and shape us.  It is not the wrong that is done to us that shapes us but how we respond, how we grow.

Have you ever felt Inferior?  It is at those times that you can rely on God even more.  With God’s strength within you, you can conquer more than you thought you could, including your feeling of inferiority.

Do you feel Guilty?  God has forgiven the sins of those who are His.  He has forgotten them.  We must let go of our guilt.

Do you feel Frustrated?  We must release our guilt, but we must realize that we are not perfect.  We live in a world of imperfect people.  There will be frustrations, but to BE frustrated means that we are not dealing with our sin, not forgiving others of their sin, and not letting God remain in control.

Do you feel Burned Out?  When we try to do it all on our steam, we run out of steam.  God has an infinite supply of steam, but He wants us following His perfect plan for our lives rather than us following our own plans and burning out by wasting energy on the wrong things.

Are you being Persecuted?  Persecution is a bit like abuse, in that it has varying degrees.  Yet, God does not prevent us from the abuse.  A few of the letters in the New Testament, both letters to the Thessalonians, 1 Peter, 1 John, James, all talk of counting persecution, or suffering, to be all Joy.  God will reward you for your faithfulness.

We all have emotional baggage.  You may not be able to relate to the examples mentioned in these posts, but in reading God’s Word, praying, and releasing the pain to God and having Him deal with it and with you, you can use that pain to grow closer to God.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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