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The Purpose of Pain

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
January 5, 2022 7:00 am

The Purpose of Pain

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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January 5, 2022 7:00 am

When life gets painful, it's easy to start believing that God isn't taking care of us the way he used to. Dr. Tony Evans will explain why the opposite is true as he talks about the purpose of pain.

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God must be free to work in us before He can work for us. But Dr. Tony Evans says that takes trust, especially when life hurts. Without that focus on Jesus Christ, then the pain is only painful, and it is not purposeful. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative.

When God doesn't deliver us from the pain we're going through, we sometimes go from considering why to considering other options. Before it comes to that, let's hear what Dr. Evans has to say as he kicks off a new compilation of messages called Coming to the Comforter. Let's join him in chapter 1 of 2 Corinthians as he begins. The apostle Paul is speaking, and there is no debate that he is probably the most spiritual Christian who's ever lived.

He is head and shoulders above anyone else when it comes to declaring the faith, representing the faith, and suffering for the faith. We're not talking about a bad man hurting. We're talking about a good man hurting. So I'm going to have you think, if I'm following Jesus, and I'm serving Jesus, and I'm loving Jesus, I'm not supposed to hurt. A lot of Paul's pain was because he was following Jesus, because he was living for Jesus, because he was a visible, verbal follower of Christ and not a secret agent representative.

It was in the midst of his faith and function, in accordance with that faith, that often was the cause of his pain. Paul said it got so bad, it hurt so much, it got so deep. The end of verse 8 says, we despaired even of life. The only way things could get worse is if we died. It was so bad, we despaired of life. Didn't want to live anymore.

Didn't think we would live anymore. But I want to praise God right now that that's not the only word repeated over and over in the passage. There is a second word that we've got to come to grips with. It's the word comfort. The end of verse 3, God of all comfort. The beginning of verse 4, who comforts. The middle of verse 4, able to comfort.

The next line in verse 4, affliction with the comfort. The end of verse 4, comforted by God. The end of verse 5, so also our comfort. The beginning of verse 6, it is for your comfort. Continuing in verse 6, or if we are comforted. Continuing in verse 6, it is for your comfort. The end of verse 7, sharers of our comfort.

Comfort. The Greek word for comforter is the word parakleet, and it's the word spoken of about the Holy Spirit when Jesus said, I'm going to send you another comforter whose job it will be to come alongside you and assist you. 1 Corinthians 10, 13, when he says that there is no tribulation, no trial, no temptation that has overtaken you, but such as is common to man, but God will with the trouble provide your way of escape. We got stuck on the word with.

Not from, but with. In other words, when God allows a problem, he not only sends the problem, he sends something else with it. The problem is we can get stuck on the problem and not see the accompanying thing that God sends with it.

Paul says with the affliction, he provides a comforter. He says that you are to look in the midst of your affliction and you are to theologically focus on your pain. In other words, you and I must give dignity to our difficulty, purpose to our pain. Don't like the pain.

Don't don't want to be satisfied with the pain. But while you are facing the pain, he says, I want you to add purpose to the pain. Verse five for just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance. So also comfort is abundant through Christ. Here it is.

Here it is. It's a very simple principle, but it is life changing. The worse the pain gets, the deeper the focus on the Lord. He says he calls your pain sharing in the sufferings of Christ. He says, I want you in the middle of what you're going through to focus on the fact that if you are seeking the Lord, serving the Lord, are committed to the Lord, I want your focus to be on the Lord so that while you're going through this, the God who allowed the affliction can also share the comfort. Do not underestimate the sovereignty of God, that if it got to you, it passed through him. And therefore, if it passed through him, allowing it to get to you, he let it get to you for a reason. It's not fate or aimlessness or luck or chance or any of the words that ought not be part of a serious Christian's vocabulary.

We don't deal with luck or chance or faith. Those are empty, meaningless words for a Christian when you have a sovereign God who controls all things, no matter how idiosyncratic it seems to be. And so he says, I want you to focus. God did not deliver the three Hebrew boys from entering the fiery furnace. He joined them in the fiery furnace.

The fire was still hot, the fire was still fire, but its effect on them was not normal because he joined them in it. If God has not taken you out of it, let him join you in it so that its effect is changed. He says, I want you to interpret this thing you are going through, if indeed you are in fellowship with the Lord as your participation in the sufferings of Christ. God must be free to work in us before he can work for us.

Our prayer is God work for me, change my situation. And God says, I hear you, but I can't work for you until you let me work in you. Because I'm trying to do something in you so that what I am doing in you can show up out of you. But if I can't work in you, then I have nothing to produce out of you.

So if I let it pass through my fingers and get to you, then let me do what I'm trying to do in you so that it'll show up out of you when I have worked through you. When you ladies who've had children are in the hospital, there comes that time when you're in labor. That is, you're in a painful situation.

You are hurting. As you're in labor, you are surrounded by comforters. It may be the husband, it may be the husband with the nurses, or they're taking paper towels and wiping the sweat. They're patting you on your arm or rubbing you because they know you're in pain, but along with the pain, they come alongside to provide encouragement and support while you're going through. Now, some go through quick labor, 30 minutes, an hour, hour and a half, and it's over. But some of you may be in prolonged labor, 10 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, and nothing is coming down the pike. But in your pain, and in your ooze, and your ahs, and your hurts, and your difficulties, they surround you.

They'll take a straw and put it to your mouth so you can sip some water and cool off because of the heat of the pain putting pressure on you, and you are aching, and you are hurting, and you are in difficulty. But what you don't do, you don't say, I give up, I quit, I don't care what's happening inside of me because you understand something brand new is taking place. You understand something unique is occurring, and so you bear the pain with the comfort until what's inside comes out.

You're not satisfied until what was inside comes out. God knows you're in labor. God knows you are afflicted. He knows you're in pain, but He also knows that's something in there, that He wants to burn out of you, and that is the manifestation of the life of Christ, a new experience with God that you would not have without the affliction. Without that focus on Jesus Christ, then the pain is only painful, and it is not purposeful.

It is not pain with a purpose. How do I get more comfort when I'm going through more pain? Because remember, the comfort comes with the affliction, so the comforter is already on the bed. How do I pull up this comforter so I feel more comforted while I'm being more afflicted? How do I get the comforter and the affliction to work together so that I not only have the comforter, I feel it in the midst of my affliction?

He tells you. Verse 4, who comforts us in our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted. He says God comforts you so that you can become a comforter of somebody else. In the midst of your pain and you're looking for some comfort to come to you, God says let comfort come through you while you are needing comfort to you, your comfort, so that you can become a comforter of another with the very same comfort. In other words, there is a ministry for your pain. God often lets us go through things that He wants to use for our ministry to somebody else. Dr. Evans will have more for us on this idea in just a moment, including a look at why the self-sufficiency we celebrate in our culture is something God is trying to train out of us.

Stay with us. Life is painful. Everyone's story comes with unique challenges, difficulties, bumps, and bruises that leave us lost and drowning in their wake. It could be a financial disaster, the effects of a global pandemic, a health issue, a broken relationship, or the loss of a loved one. Dr. Tony Evans, best-selling author and pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, understands life's hardships firsthand.

In a span of less than two years, he lost seven family members, including his precious wife. In the wake of all this pain, Dr. Evans had to put into practice at the deepest levels the truths he has preached about God for more than 40 years. In this practical and comforting new book, Hope for the Hurting, Dr. Evans gives you practical spiritual principles based on the life of Paul. He shows that there is love and happiness on the other side of it all if you will learn how to walk through the hurt with both peace and joy. There is hope for the hurting.

His name is Jesus. Go to TonyEvans.org to find out more and request your copy of Hope for the Hurting. In celebration of the release of this brand new book from Dr. Evans, we'd like to send one of the first copies to you as our gift. In return for your donation toward keeping this ministry coming your way each day. And for a limited time, along with Tony's Hope for the Hurting book, we'll also include all 20 messages from his brand new audio compilation called Coming to the Comforter. This collection offers a whole new perspective on the pain and trials we all go through and can help you find the strength you need to hold on during tough times, helping you discover the healing and wholeness God has in store for you. Request this special package of resources right away at TonyEvans.org where you can even get the companion Hope for the Hurting Bible Study DVD and study guide. Again, go to TonyEvans.org for all the details or let one of our resource team members help you by phone their night at 1-800-800-3222.

That's 1-800-800-3222. Well, right now, here's Dr. Evans with more of today's message. The other day I was driving downtown and I was on my way to an appointment and it was all crowded and full and the highway wasn't moving. I was afflicted by traffic. I was afflicted by traffic because the traffic was not moving.

I was going nowhere. I was stuck. And then I remembered, there's a second person in the car. So I went over to my left and got in the HOV lane. Because I had somebody with me. See, if I was by myself, I'm stuck. If I'm by myself, I gotta wait on everybody else. If I'm by myself only taking care of me getting to my destination, then I gotta wait till everybody else get right on the road. But because I wasn't by myself and I was carrying another with me, it changed how I drove where I drove and how I flowed. My role changed when I remembered that I brought somebody else with me.

Then I was no longer dependent upon everybody else because there was something special for me. There's a private route. There's a private lane. There's a private method for me to get to where from where I am to where I need to go simply because I wasn't carrying it alone. God has a special lane for comforters while you're needing to be comforted.

I know you need to get from here to there, carry somebody else with you because it changes the route in arriving at your destination. I have some boxes in my garage where some people sent me some things in a box and it's cushioned. The box had cushions. It had this cushioning material there, this foam that circled the box and it circled the box to comfort the contents. See, because the box was going to be all shook up. It was going to be bounced around and thrown around and moved around as it was transported from where it was to my house. But they provided foam comfort in order to protect it.

It didn't stop. The foam didn't stop it from being bounced around. It just stopped it from being jacked up having been bounced around. It was still bounced around, but it had a comforter. It had foam around the edges of the box. And so I got this box and it had foam around it or all these little squiggly foam things in it in order to protect what was going to be afflicted in transportation.

But guess what? I didn't throw that box away. I didn't throw that box away because I have something to ship. See, something was shipped to me and it had a comforter in it. Well, it dawned on me that since I have something to shift, I can take the comfort that I had received and use that comforter to move it to send to somebody else who I needed to send something to. Why waste the comfort that I received and not use that same comfort to deliver something else that somebody else needs to receive?

Why don't I take something that was shared with me so that I could handle the jerking and shifting that was coming my way and use that same comforter to deliver it to somebody else? That's what Paul is saying, that he lets us get shaken and experience God so that we can send it on to somebody else so that he not only ministers to us, he ministers through us. That's why I love 2 Corinthians 7, verses 5 through 7, for even when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side.

Conflicts without and fears within. We're talking about the spiritual apostle Paul got afraid, got some bad news and it spurred him. Fairs within, but God who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus, not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you.

So he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me so that I rejoiced even more. The major way God brings comfort is through people. It's God using people who can feel it, see it, understand it, to become comforters for it. The major way God does his thing is working through people who are available to be used and who can identify with the pain.

Let me put it in everyday language for you. You can't experience God like you want to without ministry to others. You can't experience God for you without ministry to others. So if you have come to worship selfish rather than worship service, your experience of God will be limited.

If it was only about your blessing and not being a blessing, your experience of God will be limited. But in closing, he says, at the end of verse eight, we despaired even of life. Indeed, we have the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves. But in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a pearl of death and will deliver us, he on whom I have set our hope and he will yet deliver us. One of the great principles of scripture is that God must remove our self-sufficiency.

It's called brokenness where we no longer depend on ourselves because we can't. Your options have run out. There's nothing left to do. You do not know where to go. You don't have a contact who can help you. You don't have the money to buy your way out of this. You don't have the energy to work your way through it. And you are done.

Guess what? You're in the perfect position because now only God gets the glory, only God gets the credit, and only God gets the praise. He let us get to the point of death so that we would no longer trust ourselves. Dr. Tony Evans, talking about the purpose of pain as he kicks off a new compilation of messages exploring how to approach God for the assurance you need to stand instead of stumble through life's tough challenges. If you'd like to get a full-length copy of today's message, including material we didn't have time to present on the air, it's included as a part of that comprehensive 20-part series, Coming to the Comforter. Available on CD and digital download, the complete collection is yours with our thanks when you make a contribution to help keep Tony's ministry coming to this station and other outlets around the world. And for a limited time, we'll also send you Tony's newest book, Hope for the Hurting, along with the Coming to the Comforter series. As always, the details are waiting for you online at tonyevans.org, where you can browse through our huge library of resources and sign up for Tony's free weekly email devotional. Be sure to look into getting the companion Hope for the Hurting Bible Study DVD and study guide as well.

Again, that's tonyevans.org, or let one of our friendly resource team members assist with your request at 1-800-800-3222. It's been said kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give. Well, Dr. Evans believes that we're in a time when kindness is a gift that our society can't afford not to give. Take the time to show kindness to those you meet every day, and in the name of Jesus, look for opportunities to demonstrate kindness to someone who needs a touch from God. You'll make our society a better place when you display the love of God through your act of kindness. Well, coming up tomorrow, when you're feeling hopeless and out of options, it can start to seem like God has forgotten all about you. But Dr. Evans will explore what's really going on and how we can get a clearer look at what the Lord is up to. Be sure to join us. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-01 18:38:58 / 2023-07-01 18:47:12 / 8

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