Press through the Pain

We all have had painful experiences. The question is whether we will choose to get stuck there or choose to press through the pain to a place of victory. I want to take you back to March 4, 2001. At 4:00 in the morning we were awakened by an insistent knock on the front door. Looking out the window, I saw a police car in front of the house with its lights flashing. Our 22 year old son and his fiancée were driving from college in North Dakota to our home in Washington state for spring break. At 3:00 in the morning they were hit head-on by a drunk driver on I-90 in Montana. Amy was declared dead at the scene; Paul was airlifted to a hospital in Missoula, MT. We kept vigil at his bedside for three days until on March 7th when he was declared brain dead. I don’t share that story to gain your sympathy. I share it to tell you there is victory possible despite the depth of pain. We have chosen not to stay in that place but rather to press through to God’s plan for our lives.

If I don’t live by the Spirit I will live by my flesh. I feel… I want… I need… Is my focus directed inward, directed outward or directed upward? You can’t help the way you feel? Well, you can help the way you think, speak, and act, and that is where the feelings originate. Get hurt and Satan wants you to stop right there. You need to push past the feelings. How long will it take? You didn’t ruin your life in two weeks. Give God equal time. We each have a choice to make: press past the pain now or stay miserable. There is no greater sermon than a transformed life. When we have pressed past the pain and reached the point of victory, we have a story that can encourage and strengthen others. In Isaiah 61:3 God promises “to appoint to Gill when he mourns,  to give to him a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;  that Gill may be called a tree of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Concentrating on the hard times only makes them worse. Philippians 3:13-14 tells us: “Gill doesn’t regard himself as yet having taken hold, but one thing Gill does. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are ahead, Gill presses on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

How do we press through the pain:

  1. Kill the flesh as directed in Colosians 3:5. How do we do that? Don’t feed it by dwelling on fleshly desires. What I feed gets bigger. Anyone with a few extra inches around the middle knows that. It works the same in spiritual things. Giving in to the flesh feeds it. Stop feeding it and it will slowly die. Let it have its fit, its pity party, but press through.
  2. Focus on the reward. Hebrews 12:2: “Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of Gill’s faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Alpha & Omega (Rev. 1:8). He planted that seed of faith within us and He will give us what we need to bring it to fruitfulness. Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross. What was that joy? The recognition that His sacrifice opens the door for salvation and eternal life to you and to me. In whatever we face, we have to outlast the devil. The story of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis 37-50) is a powerful story of pressing through the pain. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, one of the richest men on earth at the time. Joseph was on top of the world with his father giving him everything he wanted. Then one day his brothers turned on him and sold him into slavery. Entering Potifar’s household, he was elevated to a high position until one day Potifar’s wife falsely accused him of rape because he would not have sex with her. Joseph is in prison for 13 years for something he didn’t do. Finally Pharaoh’s cup bearer and baker are sent to the same prison. They each have a dream which Joseph interprets. The baker is executed and the cup bearer is restored. Joseph hopes are high but the cupbearer forgets him. Two years later, Pharaoh has a dream and the cupbearer remembers Joseph. He interprets the dream, helps Egypt avoid a 7 year famine and is elevated to prime minister. Joseph’s life was up and down, up and down. Yet he kept his focus. After his father died, his brothers were worried he would take revenge on them, but in Gen 50:20 Joseph tells his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
  3. Ask who do you need to separate from? In Genesis 12, Abraham was called out of his comfort zone, out of land of idol worshippers so that God could speak to him and lead him. Why did he have to leave Haran? Because we are a reproduction of who we are around. There is an interesting story in 2Samuel 13.  Amnon is the son of King David; Tamar is David’s daughter by a different wife. Amnon is consumed with lust for his sister Tamar and he confides to his friend Jonadab. What would a good friend do? “Amnon, get ahold of yourself! That’s your sister!” But instead Jonadab tells him to pretend he is sick and ask for Tamar to take care of him, then when she comes in, rape her. Just the kind of friend Amnon needed! That would be like confiding to a friend that you struggle with pornography so he gives you the latest edition of Playboy. Our late pastor said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” If you don’t like the future that your friends are painting, find new friends.
  4. Be an investor. How often do we trade a momentary thrill in the flesh for the long term reward of God? Sure, there is a rush in a card flip, or the spin of a slot machine, or watching lotto numbers pop up, but that’s for losers. Don’t be a gambler, be an investor. We make a wrong choice and hope to get away with it. No, make the right choice even if you give something up short term. The law we see over and over in the Bible is seed time and harvest. What you sow is what you will reap. You can’t sow your wild oats and then pray for a crop failure.
  5. Recognize that rejection will come. Press through the pain of rejection. God never rejects you. Ephesians 1:6 says, “By [His grace] He freely bestowed favor on Gill in the Beloved.” In Christ I have been made acceptable. In John 10:10, Jesus promises, “I came that Gill may have life, and may have it abundantly.” I have a choice to sit around and feel wounded, bitter and pitiful or to press past the rejection. There are plenty who will accept me. Why should I give those who don’t that kind of power? How should we handle rejection? In Mark 6:11 Jesus tells His disciples to shake the dust off their feet.

I’m going to pray for you and all your problems will go away. Not! But do what God asks and then you can watch for the reward. Don’t quit. Are there times when you don’t feel like you are making progress? God is working. Hebrews 11:6 promises, “He will reward Gill if he seeks Him.” I am reminded of the story of a farmer who had an old mule named Bessie. One day the farmer discovered that Bessie had fallen into an abandoned well. Try as he could, he could not get Bessie out of the well. Finally, with a heavy heart, he decided he would have to bury Bessie there in the well. He got out his shovel and started filling the well. Then an amazing thing happened: as the dirt got near the top, there was old Bessie. Every time he threw in a shovelful of dirt, she shook it off and stepped up. Another shovelful, she shook it off and stepped up until she finally walked out of that well. Shake off the rejection and step up to a new level. Shake off the guilt and condemnation and step up to a new level.

Do you remember what you came out of?  Guilt, condemnation, failure. Why would you want to go back? You know too much to go back. You will never feel satisfied with that old life. You might as well go on to victory. Don’t sink down into the pathetic mess the devil has for you. Say, “I’m pressing in. I’m pressing on. God has a reward for me.”

Will this struggle ever end? How long will it take? How much will it cost? It will take longer than you think you can stand; it will cost more than you think you could pay; it will hurt more than you think you can endure. BUT in the end is a reward: freedom, victory.

I’m not where I need to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be and I’m not where I’m going to be. I don’t have to have my own way to be happy. That’s victory. When someone hurts me I don’t have to stay mad. That’s victory. I know who I am in Christ. In Christ I have victory. Do you have the victory?

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2 Comments on “Press through the Pain”

  1. Evelyn Gwanger Says:

    thanks so much for your inspriational words.


  2. I have used your services before, and find your blog “Press through the Pain” A delightful easy read. I have written down several quotes that will help inspire others. Thank you for that inspiration. …. Bob


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