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God’s Work Through Our Pain

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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September 21, 2021 2:00 am

God’s Work Through Our Pain

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 21, 2021 2:00 am

Is your heart hurting? Dave and Ann Wilson explain how God's presence and purpose are often greatest in our darkest valleys.

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Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
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Pastor Ernie Sanders
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Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church
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Okay, today we get to talk about one of our favorite topics.

In fact, it's one of the things we love to go through in life. Marriage? No.

Well, it is marriage. Vacation? Not really. It sometimes feels like a vacation.

No, it's a topic nobody really wants to talk about, and it's hard. It's pain. Wait, you just said sometimes it feels like a vacation? Well, I mean, you're a vacation from your normal life, but it's not good. It's just a break. And when you go through pain or hardship or heartache, it's a thing we all want to avoid.

We all run from it, and we're fearful of it because we don't know if we'll survive it all the time. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. And yeah, it's a part of life. Every single person will go through hardship at some time. Some of you are going through it right now. And the question when you go through it is, where's God? And so we decided as we got a chance to speak on the Love Like You Mean It virtual cruise, which means this wasn't a cruise on a real boat on a body of water like normal.

This 2021 cruise was virtual because of COVID, and we were asked to speak about anything we wanted. And we decided, you know, this has been one of the hardest years for all of us. We've gone through a lot of pain. Let's talk about where God is in the middle of the pain. And this is the second part of the message that we've already been listening to this week. And so we're going to kind of get into the nuts and bolts of the how to's in this part.

Yeah. And in the first part, we just basically open the question of where is God and walked you through a passage in the Old Testament where God shows up in a valley, literally in a valley and sort of surprisingly, but he shows up and reminds Elijah that he's right there and he's going to remind us the same thing. He's with us.

He's in it. And he actually uses the valley, uses our pain to do some of his best work. In fact, you're going to write something down.

I don't know if you're taking notes at all, but please at least remember this. The big idea, the big truth that we want to leave with you is right here. God often does his best work in the valley. God often does his best work in your life and in my life, in your marriage and my marriage is when we're in the dark places, when we're in the valley. It's like we don't think he's there.

We don't think he's at work. No, he is doing some of his very best work in us, in the darkest parts of our life. And then our greatest growth many times comes from the driest seasons. Our kids have little kids right now in their marriage, our grandkids, and they're feeling like this is the hardest season. Like we have no time alone.

Our marriage, it's hard. It's dry spiritually because we have no time. And by the way, we've been there and it is.

Yeah, it is. And yet I watch them. I think, look at you like they're so needy for Jesus. They're talking to him all day long, all the time, like really telling God these are our needs. This is what's happening. And here's the thing. We're going to be a couple of sort of points under that big idea. The big idea, again, is that God does his best work often in our valley. But here's a couple of thoughts about pain in our lives, because we're all experiencing some of that right now at different levels. Our pain invites his presence. Our pain invites his presence. We often think in our pain, God has left us. God's not here. We don't feel God.

He doesn't see us. But the truth is, and we can tell story after story of this being real in our lives when Anne's sister died. Horrible. It was so hard and it felt so empty.

Right. And yet God felt distant. And yet there is another part that I needed him so desperately that I felt like at times like I could almost feel his breath on my face.

That's how desperate I was for him and for any hope. And we were reminded this recently. Some of you have heard us talk about this.

If you've listened to us on Family Life Today on the podcast or Friday with the Wilsons. But this amazing thing took place in our life and we realized he's doing this even in young people around us. It was a crazy Saturday afternoon. A lot of things were going on that we didn't plan or expect. I was in a place that I never expected to be. And I parked in a parking lot I shouldn't have been in. But when I got in my car, I noticed a wallet on the ground and I picked it up. I noticed it had two hundred fifty dollars in it. I noticed I was on a college campus.

I noticed it was a student that went to school there. And so I thought, oh, I had a bunch of credit cards. So I thought I need to somehow find this guy and and tell him that I have his wallet.

So I end up going through social media. I can't get him. And somehow I find his phone number and I call him and I said, hey, say his name. Hey, I found your wallet. And he's like, oh, man, I have been looking for this everywhere.

I cannot believe it. And so I give him my address and say, hey, you can just come and pick it up. By the way, I guess I was in the family room at this point and I hear her call this guy. She told me when I walked in the house, he found this wallet and she's going to call this guy. So I hear her say, hey, here's our address. And I'm thinking, you don't give a perfect stranger your address. I even said to her, I'm like, you're going to have some kid you don't know show up at our house. Why don't we meet him at a gas station?

I don't know. He's going to show up. And then she says to me, I walk into the kitchen. She has all these chocolate chip cookies. He goes, honey, I'm telling you, God's in this. I'm like, what? She goes, I think God's in this.

I feel like God's in this. I told him I want to give him these chocolate chip cookies. I'm like, I'm just going to be honest. I was like, whatever.

I went back in and started watching college football. And I was like, I'm telling you, this is going to be something where God wants this guy at our house. He goes, oh, man. So the doorbell rings. I go to the door. He goes, Ann Wilson.

I'm like, oh, hi. Do you happen to go to our church? He goes, yes, I go to your church. He goes, is Dave here? I'm in the family room. And I go, what is going on?

Can I come in? And Dave's making a sandwich now in the kitchen. He goes, you guys like you're my pastor.

I've been in your church since I was a little kid. I cannot believe this is happening. So we're like, why?

What's going on? Well, what's really interesting is he as he stood there and started talking to us, I could tell he's getting really emotional. And so I'm like, this is a big deal.

I got to be honest as I watched it, I'm like, oh, no, Ann's right again. God's in this, you know. So anyway, I just look at him and I say, dude, what's going on? And he just looks at us and he goes, you know, I've been at your church since my parents got married at your church. I found out later. He texts us later and said, you know, you married my parents 26 years ago because I knew I knew his last name. And anyway, he said, just looked at us. He goes, I've lost my faith. What do you mean? He goes, I'm a senior in college.

I'm getting ready to graduate and go on with my life. And he said, I realize my faith has been my parents faith. And I'm at the point where I don't even know if I believe. And I basically just told God, I don't even know if it's true. So if it is true, you have to show me something.

You have to do something to show me that this is real. And he goes, and I met your house and you found my wallet. Yeah, it was pretty funny because I looked at Dave and Dave has tears like tears are coming down his face. You know, we're standing at the front door. And the reason I teared up is I'm looking at this young boy. He has no idea what all happened that morning to put in at a parking lot where she came to watch me and my son throw football and train these guys. And we're supposed to be at this field. And so all these circumstances ended up in a weird way that and ends up.

He doesn't know any of that. And as I'm standing there looking at this young man in this wallet, I'm thinking, look at how God brought up a lost wallet and a young man searching for his faith to two people. That to him meant that God sees him in the middle of the struggle to find his faith and knows him and cares about him enough to put that together. And it just hit me as like, oh, my goodness, God is in this.

And it reminded me of what we're trying to communicate to you, which we've had to learn over and over and again in the valley. God sees you. He knows you. And he's at work.

He does his best work in the valley. And he actually, you know, our pain invites him. His presence into this guy was calling out to God saying, God, this is it.

Like, I need you and I need to know that you're here. And it was so funny at the end, I said, I had a feeling this was going to be about Jesus. And I said, I made these cookies because I just felt like God wanted, you know, he loves you and sees you. Here's the amazing thing is sort of the next step. If if if our pain invites God's presence, don't don't miss us.

And I just wrote we just wrote down this way. God can use our pain to help others. God can and I can say he's going to he can. If we let him so God can use our pain to help others.

Dot dot dot. If we let him, it's really sort of up to us if we're going to allow God to use what we've gone through as a struggle to help others. I mean, think about that. You know, many of you know our 10 year anniversary story that was in the art of marriage and led to our book Vertical Marriage. The whole book, the whole story is about one of the darkest valley moments in our marriage. When when Anne says to me in our 10 year anniversary, I've lost my feelings for you. I know you've heard the story, but I don't know if you understand. She we were almost done.

We're not sitting here today if she leaves. And in that moment, when God shows up and sort of does a miracle, even in our car, as I realize this isn't just about us. This is about my relationship with God and our relationship with God. God meets us and he didn't change our marriage overnight.

But we repented like we were going one way and we felt like we need to go back toward God and put our eyes on her and our hope in him. And now he's using that story, which was very painful for us to help others because we let him. You know, what's really interesting is years ago I was going in for back surgery and I had had some you probably know this sciatica shooting down my left leg. That was so, so painful. I won't even get into it. I couldn't stand. I couldn't sit.

I fought this for five years on and off. And I went to the surgeon. He says, we got to get this surgery done. And long story short, getting ready for the surgery several months after my last appointment with him because he's the best in the Midwest and I couldn't get in. And as I go in for this surgery, I'm completely pain free by this point. And so when I get there, the nurse says, man, you look great. How you feeling?

I said, I feel great. But you know what? This keeps coming back. I'm going to go through with this. Let's go.

And so I'll never forget this. The doctor comes in. They've already got me IV'd up. We're headed down to the O.R. And he says, hey, you know, Sue, my nurse says you feel great. How do you feel? I said, Doc, I feel great.

But we're doing this surgery because you and I both know it's coming back. Let's go. And he goes, no, no, no.

Let's let's test and see how well you're doing. And so he does this little leg test to see if I have strength in this leg. And he does this. He takes his gloves off and he goes, go home. I'm not doing a surgery. And I'm like, what do you mean? He goes, I don't know what's happened. It's a miracle if that's what you want to call it.

But your disc is no longer on your sciatic nerve. I'm not touching that. You're healed.

Go home. He is like he comes out. He's like, it's a miracle. He's so excited. And he hasn't eaten all day. So he's like, we're going to go out for breakfast.

Yeah. So we call our buddies and we say, you know, I'm supposed to be off for work for let's meet at this pancake house. Anyway, long story short, we're sitting in the back having this distance. I had a new test. This is this is awesome.

Next, I'm going to pray for my hair to come back. Anyway, we're sitting in the back of this restaurant. And and as and there's hardly anybody there, but this Detroit Pistons player walks in and I don't know him, but I bet he's huge man. You can tell he's in the NBA.

He's won a couple NBA championships in Detroit back in the late 80s. And I see him sit down and he waves at me. Now, we're in the back of the restaurant, so I'm thinking he's not waving at me. I don't know him. I look at him. I look at Dave and I'm like, do you know him? And I look behind me like, who's he waving at?

There's a wall behind me. So I wave back and he just smiles. And I said, do we know him? He goes, no.

So anyway, a few minutes later, as we're leaving the restaurant, he and his wife are sitting right by the front door. And I walk up and I stop at his table and I go, hey, do we know each other? And he goes, you're my pastor. I go, you go to our church? I've never seen you at our church. He goes, well, I actually sit in the video overflow room because I'm a very big man and it's hard to sit in those seats and people know me.

And I just like to say sort of private, but you're my pastor. And then he starts to get teary. And I look over and his wife is in tears. And trust me, this does not happen every day in the Wilson's life. These two stories. But I look at him, I go, so what's going on?

And here's what they said. I'll never forget this. He goes, well, my wife and I are right now deciding if we should get a divorce. We've been driving around all morning trying to decide if we should get a divorce. And we just prayed and said, God, we need a sign if you want us to stay together. And he goes, we walk in here and you're sitting there. You're that sign. We need to stay together. Now, here's again the amazing thing. He has no idea that that very second I'm supposed to be under the knife. And I'll tell you, I thought the miracles for me, you know, I thought this whole thing was about, wow, look at what God.

I don't even I don't think it was even about me. It's like God used that moment and they're still married. This is over a decade later to them. It was it was a sign to them that God sees them. God is with them. God can sustain them. God can even do a miracle. And here's the here's the amazing thing. A year later, I had back surgery. It came back. I had to have it done.

And so it didn't even that miracle was just it was a moment in life. But here's the thing. God will use your pain to help others if you let him. And I would say the truth is he wants to use your pain to help others. It's really true because he wants to meet you there. You know how we meet you there to help others.

It's interesting. At our church, we have a saying sort of in the green room that we remind each other of. And the same basically we actually have it written and it hangs on our wall.

It says this. Never underestimate the pain in the room. We just want to remind ourselves as we're walking out on stage and we're going to speak the word of God over our congregation.

Never underestimate. There are people sitting out there that look fine. They put it all on. They say the right things and they walk in and you think they're fine.

And yet there's a lot of pain in the room. Never forget that. But I'll never forget my youngest son, Cody, was a co pastor with me for the last several years at our church.

And a few months ago he was on stage preaching. And you got to love these moments when your kids say something that you go, oh, my goodness, I got to write this down. Cody said this in the message. He goes, you know, we have this saying backstage. It says never underestimate the pain in the room.

But he says, I want to add something to it. And I'm going to quote him. He says, but also never underestimate the power of Jesus to transform that pain into something powerful. Because really easy to go, yeah, we're all hurting, but that's true. But don't also underestimate God can do something powerful.

Jesus wants to do something powerful to transform that pain into something that can not only help us, but be a blessing to others. So here's the final thought. OK. And I think it's very, very important. And I didn't even discover this.

I don't think until the last couple of years. And that's simply this. Our pain invites God's purpose. Our pain invites God's purpose.

In other words, the pain that we struggle with in our life, even what we're going through right now or you're going through in your in your home and your marriage right now, God is going to use that to point to his purpose for your life. It's interesting. I'm planning this women's conference in a couple of years from now, but I'm in the beginning stages.

And I asked these 15 women that are on this planning team with me. I said, I want to I want you to talk about your gifts, your passion and your pain. And they're like, why are we talking about our pain? And I said, because a lot of times the pain that you've gone through, pain that you've lived through points to your purpose and your passion.

Like, it's amazing. Like I've gone through sexual abuse and I want to free women from that bondage and the shame of that. We've gone through a hard marriage. We want to help people through the hardness of that and through the difficulty. And so asking you guys, what's been your pain? What have been your valleys? And first of all, in your valley, God sees you. He knows you.

He's with you. And then eventually, could he be wanting to actually use that pain to draw you to your purpose? And I would say for almost, I don't know, almost 30 years of my life, I would have told you the worst part of my life was when my dad walked out when I was seven years old. My mom and dad got divorced and then my little brother died within that year, seven years old. And now I look back and that was very hard.

And it was a dark valley. I look back now and realize God was there and he actually created through that pain our purpose. You know, you're looking at, at least for me, a kid who came from a broken home that is now spending our lives trying to help people not break homes, having marriages last, doing anything we can to help your marriage and to bless others through you. That's what God does. He uses the pain in our life to point us to our purpose.

I really believe that's what he wants to do. We always try to run away from that. It's like, no, what if we embraced it?

Again, I'm not saying it's easy, but what if we said, OK, this has been really hard. How does God want to shape me through it, bless me through it? And then how does he want to use us and that pain to be our purpose and blessing to others? And we can't find out what that is unless we're walking with him, talking with him.

We're in relationship with him because he'll always lead us to where he wants us to go if we let him. Listen to this verse in Second Corinthians. Paul wrote this. This is such a powerful, beautiful truth about the things that we struggle with and how God meets us. He says, praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion. That's who he is. That's his character. He is compassionate with you right now. The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

So good. You need comfort. We need comfort. Where do we go? It's not going to be found just here.

It's going to be found vertically. And then look what he says. The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles. So that. What's so that? It's a purpose statement. He's telling us this is why I comfort you in your troubles. So that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

You've been listening to a message that Ann and I gave on the Love Like You Mean It virtual cruise in 2021. And boy, oh, boy, that last passage of scripture is such a good reminder that not only does God meet us and comfort us in our in our valley, but he actually is going to use that comfort that we've received to minister to others. I really like that you ended with that scripture. I'm like, I need to put that on my refrigerator and look at that verse every day or in my car on the review mirror because it's so critical. It's such a comfort to know that God can use it to help others.

And here's the truth. I was thinking about, as I was listening to that, some of the scars and some of the pain that we've gone through. Like I put like my sexual abuse in my past. It's like this scar that I have that I wear.

I think about your family and the legacy came from alcoholism and abuse. And then I think about our marriage, like that scar. Scars are things you want to hide.

You don't want to show them off. My sister dying was a huge scar. And in all of those times, we cried out to God. And I love the scripture that says when we cry out, he hears. And this verse in Corinthians is basically saying, don't hide your scars.

It's embarrassing. We don't want to show anyone or tell anyone what we've been through. But when we point back to Jesus and we say, no, I'm going to show off my scars because he was there in the midst of my pain. And it's amazing to think that sharing that pain is going to meet somebody in their pain.

Right. You know, when you walk through that valley and you have a story to tell of how hard it was and yet how true God was in the middle of it. We have no idea. Your neighbor, a stranger, it could be anybody. God is going to use your pain to meet them in their pain. So your pain is never wasted.

It's literally going to be used to change the world. You know, you stop and think about it for just a minute. Most of us would agree that the times when we have grown the most spiritually, the times when we've drawn closest to God, it's been the valley times.

It's been the hard times. That's where we often find ourselves drawing closer to God. And then the idea that God can take the suffering we've been through and use that redemptively to help others in the midst of their struggle.

That's God's grace. Dave and Ann Wilson have been talking about how we can grow in the midst of storms. This was actually a message they presented on the 2021 Love Like You Mean It virtual cruise. We remember last February we didn't have a real life cruise because of Covid.

Everything was shut down. Cruising is back. It's safe. It's been going on for months now and all the protocols are in place.

Everything is safe. And we're excited that the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in February of 2022 will once again be leaving from Port Canaveral in Florida and heading out into the Caribbean. You're invited. The cruise is about 70 percent full right now. So this is kind of last call for those of you who want to join us. We put a special offer together for Family Life Today listeners.

The offer is good through October 4th. And you can find out more about how to reserve your stateroom and be a part of the cruise and save a little money right now. Go to The information about the cruise is available there. Or call if you have any questions or if you'd like to register. Call 1-800-358-6329. 1-800-F as in Family. L as in Life.

And then the word Today. You will hear from a great lineup of speakers, including Dave and Ann Wilson. Dr. Julie Slattery is joining us. Ron Deal is going to be on the cruise. The Kendrick Brothers will be there with their brand new movie. You'll get kind of an exclusive sneak peek. The movie is not going to be out until the middle of next year. So you'll be among the first to see it on the cruise.

There's a lot more lined up. Again, you can get information online at or call if you have any questions. 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family.

L as in Life. And then the word Today. Now tomorrow we're going to hear from another one of the speakers who's going to be joining us on the Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise in 2022. Pastor and author Jonathan Pacluta, he's going to talk about how our marriages need to be handled with care.

They are fragile and we need to also adjust maybe some of our expectations about marriage. We'll hear from him about that tomorrow. Hope you can join us. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-21 17:44:18 / 2023-08-21 17:55:37 / 11

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