Pain With a Purpose

The timeless paintings of the great French Impressionist, Auguste Renoir, literally glow with life and light and color. Renoir seemed to put light inside the people he so beautifully portrayed on canvas. For the last twenty years or so of his life, Renoir was crippled with arthritis. His hands were twisted and gnarled; even his spine was affected, so that he could not stand when he worked, and needed assistance to move from one position to another. The pain he suffered while working caused beads of perspiration to stand out on his face. On one occasion, his prize student, Matisse, asked Renoir, “Why do you torture yourself to go on like this?” Renoir replied, “The pain passes; the beauty remains!” 

Renoir’s words can be likened to the presence of the resurrection power of God in our lives. There is the pain of our daily little deaths; the pain of relinquishing all of that which is spiritually destructive in our life; the pain of developing a lifestyle in the spirit of loving service to others; the pain of changing whatever needs changing in our life in order to do God’s will. It passes, but the beauty of our new life, the beauty of being a person endeavoring to live in the likeness of our Lord lives on.

When called on to suffer for our Lord instead of asking “why” ask “how.” How, Lord, in light of this can it be used to your honor and glory? How can it best enable me to glorify you?

When it is your lot to suffer for Jesus, don’t wimp out on Him. Don’t let suffering for Him cause you to cower or compromise, rather let it inspire commitment and courage.

Suffering causes even greater anguish if it is only interpreted as an inconvenience interruption rather than a constructive purpose. It is like a weight in physical exercise. The purpose of the weight is to build strength. Our struggles in life do the same for us.

Suffering requires response. It will embolden and bless us or burden and break us. Which depends on what is our life’s foundation.

Suffering comes in different sizes and shapes, but it is certain that it comes to all. One type of suffering is being criticized, belittled, ostracized, or left out because of standing for Jesus. He suffered such for us. We should follow the example of the apostles who because of their identity with Jesus were beaten with a whip. The pain of such a beating is severe. After their mistreatment because of their faith they went out rejoicing that they were counted worth to suffer for their Lord. (Acts 5: 41) They saw a purpose in it.

By our suffering for Jesus we are molded into the model God has in mind for us.

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” (I Peter 5: 10)

The pain passes, but the beauty remains.