Today I put in my two weeks’ notice at a job that I’ve been at for over half a decade. I love the job and cherish the people. The staff there have become more like family than coworkers and I could not love them more, but I have a purpose for leaving and sometimes purpose comes with pain. Jesus had emotional and physical pain at the crossroads of His purpose and He refused to allow anyone to remove either for both were necessary. Often you cannot view the canvas of your purpose without noticing the extremely calculated brush strokes of pain.
Jesus at the crossroads of purpose: Luke 22:42
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Pain isn’t necessarily an indicator of being misaligned with God’s will or even punishment for sin. Pain can very easily be a consequence of submission. God told Jesus to die and die painfully so that the world would pay attention and be saved. Jesus’ purpose came with an extreme measure of pain. Jesus was not misaligned with God, in fact, He was more aligned than anyone could or would ever be and this alignment came with a healthy dose of pain.
Abraham at the crossroads of purpose: Genesis 22
1Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
2“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac.
9When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
12“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Abraham’s destiny relied on him being able to have many children and here God is asking Abraham to take his only legitimate son and kill him. God later rescues Isaac from his father Abraham’s hands, but during the process of preparing the altar for execution and actually attempting to carry out the dark deed Abraham must have felt horrible. Abraham may have been in explicit agony and pain at the thought of losing his son and at his own hands no less. God didn’t want Isaac dead, but God did want Abraham reassured in His faith. Abraham’s purpose in life, to father many nations, came with some emotional pain.
Daniel at the crossroads of purpose: Daniel 6
6So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! 7We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. 8And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” 9So King Darius signed the law. 10But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.
Daniel may have suffered great psychological pain had he not be so steadfast in the Lord.
The Three Hebrew Boys at the crossroads of purpose: Daniel 3
14Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.f But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.18But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
The three Hebrew boys, like their companion Daniel, may have suffered great worry and physiological pain and this is not because they were out of God’s will, but because they were so deep in it. Like Jesus, Daniel, and Abraham their dedication to God is the reason that they are in a position of pain. Had any of them been more disobedient or at least less steadfast in their faith they could have avoided the pain associated with being a follower of God. It is because they were aligned that they had pain.
In the end God is sovereign and in His infinite knowledge he allows us to experience laughing, joy, love, sex, adrenaline, dopamine and even pain. None of these are a good indicator of righteousness or right standing with God and none are an indicator of disobedience or misalignment with God. One must first know God’s will to acknowledge and align oneself with the perfect will of God. This knowledge comes by hearing the word preached, spending time in the word written and experiencing the living word in spirit form i.e. the Holy Ghost. For many who question, there is a holy trinity and it is the spoken, written and experienced Word of God.