Faith General Identity

The Problem with Pain

It was not the news we wanted to hear. “Your wife has breast cancer. Ductal invasive carcinoma, to be specific.” Where did this come from? There is no cancer history in her family; definitely not breast cancer. After a routine mammogram, she was called back for a biopsy. The pathology report found cancer.

Pain Rocks Your World

Whether you love Jesus or not, discovering such health news rocks your world, like my quadruple heart bypass surgery that sent me into a huge tailspin. Now this, for my wife?  Really, God? Sandy and I are wholeheartedly in the camp that God is writing His story in us. He does not waste a single moment of our lives. Even painful, unexpected things are not by accident. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, 

for those who are called according to his purpose.

The truths of Romans 8:28 are rock solid. The only issue is we’ve over-quoted it, falsely assuming it is this word from God that will protect us from all pain and suffering. No, my friend, God is not an American with the American view of posterity around every corner. For decades, we have bought into the notion that the king of America is sport and the queen is entertainment. Somehow, we have this strange idea pain is not allowed, should be curtailed, and avoided at all costs. 

The Time has Come

The day finally came for her surgery. I had just said goodbye to my wife, as she was wheeled into pre-op. I held her hand, leaning over the gurney to kiss her. My bride of over 32 years. My best friend, my lover, my soul-mate. God, this isn’t supposed to be. But it is. And, the road to recovery ahead will be long, arduous, and lonely at times, emotionally and physically painful. That is not an indictment against God, nor is it a sign of failure or weakness to experience such. We are created human and with such, we experience life full-orbed. Jesus experienced pain. He suffered in a gruesome way. How dare we as the human race kill the Saviour of the world?  And yet, through pain and suffering comes resurrection. New life.  Hope!

Painless Warriors

Frankly, that phrase is an oxymoron. Warriors become warriors through pain, through endurance, through focused discipline. Warriors put up with the opposition, walking through dark valleys, not able to see the enemy perched on the ridges ready to shoot you down. Some guys work out at the gym. They post videos of them pumping iron. Bulking up. Gaining mass. As great of a pursuit that is (and I wish I did more of that in my warrior years), it is not the ultimate way to become a warrior. Sure, it trains the body, but what about your soul?

Soul Pain

So much of our sin habits are cries for soul healing. We dive into porn for sexual arousal and relief. We get drunk not because we really like the taste, but because it numbs us from the soul pain we can’t seem to shake. Unfortunately, even guys who love Jesus fall for these and other sin escapes. And, yet, Jesus patiently waits for us to call out for Him. Soul pain is meant to drive us to Jesus. It’s meant to get us in a place where we ask Him to father us through the journey to healing.

I’m no Masochist

Life is not meant to be one long drawn-out journey of suffering. God wants to free us from sin and the pain to which it binds us to. The cross is freedom. Whether, it’s pain you experience from your own stupid choices or pain that was thrust upon you, as my wife experienced, the only hope to make the most of that pain is to lean into the heart of God. 

In a recent Mentoring Warriors Boot Camp, I mentioned to the men that the years since my heart bypass surgery, I have seen the greatest pain and yet the greatest growth in my manhood. It’s to the point, I would not trade it for anything.

Jesus is Grace

I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Even Paul asked God to take away his “thorn in the flesh.”  God’s answer was “No.”  Instead, He said His grace would be sufficient for Paul.  The actual word for word from the Greek is “Sufficient for you is the grace of me.”  Meaning, it isn’t actually grace we want through the pain, it’s the presence of Jesus himself that helps us through the pain. 

What is Your Pain Tolerance?

We’ve all heard the jokes that men are wimps when it comes to pain. I’d say that was fairly accurate of me pre-heart surgery. Since then, my pain tolerance has risen dramatically, not just physically, but in the core of my soul. Refinement and pain levels go hand in hand. If you want to be a real warrior, then in the deepest spiritual sense you can muster, lay yourself bare before God. Go naked, be transparent, so that when the unexpected news hits, you are not running to the false gods of diversions to appease a heart that will ultimately benefit from the pain. Keep in mind, God is at work. Will you let Him write His story in you?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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