Don’t Waste Your Pain (1 Peter 3:15)

I read the following:

Why does God allow trouble to plague his people? How can it be considered loving for him to permit trials to run wild in our lives?

I gained fresh insight into these questions while watching a spellbinding four-minute video called “How Wolves Change Rivers.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q

A slightly too exuberant, yet delightfully British narrator recounts the changes that resulted from the entrance of a pack of wolves into the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park. It turns out that deer overpopulation had left massive portions of the park barren. Constant grazing had turned valleys into wastelands. The lack of vegetation had caused soil erosion, which destabilized the banks of the river, slowing the flow of water. The lack of sufficient water and vegetation, in turn, forced wildlife to move on. In short, life was fading from the park.

Then a pack of wolves moved in.

Do you think it would be life-enhancing for a pack of predators to be released into a national park? I imagine your initial response would be, like mine, “No, that sounds terrible.” 

But it turns out that it was the best thing that could have happened.

Wolves and a World of Good

The wolves predictably killed a few deer, thinning out the population. However, that was not the most significant change. The remaining deer were forced to move to higher terrain and abandon the grasslands of the valleys.

“Difficulty brings blessing. Hardship brings joy. Wolves change rivers.”

These areas that had been mown down for so long then began to regrow at an accelerated rate. Aspen trees quintupled in size in less than six years. This growth brought back birds to nest in the branches and beavers to eat the wood. The return of the beavers meant the return of beaver dams, which created pools that allowed for the repopulation of fish, otters, ducks, muskrats, reptiles, and amphibians. The wolves also cleared out some of the coyotes, which caused rabbits and mice to return. This change led to the return of hawks, weasels, foxes, and badgers. 

Yet the most amazing impact occurred in the river itself. Because grasses were allowed to regrow, the soil collapsed less, allowing for firmer riverbanks. Which gave the river flow greater direction, which reinforced the animal habitats.

In short, the entrance of a few wolves created a whole world of good in Yellowstone National Park, transforming wastelands into lush valleys teeming with life.

So, it turns out that the best thing to do to promote life was to release a few wolves into the valley.[1]

You may wonder why bad things happen?

We are completing the sermon series on Life’s Healing Choices, here are all the choices:

Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Recovery Principles

The Road to Recovery Based on the Beatitudes

  1. Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. (Step 1 of the 12 step method)
  2. Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2 of the 12 step method)
  3. Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. (Step 3 of the 12 step method)
  4. Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5 of the 12 step method)
  5. Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7 of the 12 step method)
  6. Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 step method)
  7. Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. (Steps 10 and 11 of the 12 step method)
  8. Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. (Step 12 of the 12 step method)[2]

Today, is step 8 and my theme is:

Don’t waste your pain.

Share your testimony with others, including how God rescued you.

Let’s read 1 Peter 3:15:

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…

  1. Why does God allow pain? (Some of these points come from the book “Life’s Healing Choices”)
    1. God has given us free will.
    2. We notice that in the creation narrative in Gen. 2:15-17:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
    3. If we choose to be sexually promiscuous and get a sexually transmitted disease, we bear the consequences of our own bad choice. Do you see the dilemma? God will not overrule your will. God doesn’t send anybody to hell. We choose to go there by rejecting His will for us. God loves you and wants you to be a part of His family, but if you thumb your nose at God and walk away from Him, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. That is free will.[3]
    4. We are also effected by the free will of others.
    5. God uses the pain to get our attention. Look at 2 Cor. 7:9: I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.
    6. Another example of pain getting our attention is Jonah. After he ran from God and was swallowed by the fish it says: Jonah 2:7: “While I was fainting away,I remembered the Lord, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple.
    7. God uses pain to teach us to depend upon Him.
    8. God allows pain to give us a ministry to others.
      1. Gen 50:20 shows that God can use it for good.
      2. Who better to help an alcoholic than someone who has struggled with alcoholism? Who better to help someone dealing with the pain of abuse than one who also suffered abuse? Who can better help the person who lost a job and went bankrupt than somebody who’s experienced the same thing? Who can better help the parents of a teenager who’s going off the deep end than a couple who had a child who did the same? God wants to use and recycle the pain in your life to help others, but you’ve got to be open and honest about it. If you keep that hurt to yourself, you’re wasting it. God wants to recycle your hurts, your hang-ups, and your habits to help others.[4]
    9. How can you use your pain to help others?
      1. Share your story.
      2. This is simply about sharing your testimony.
      3. Remember 1 Peter 3:15? Always be ready to give an answer.
      4. Right now, I am talking about sharing how you came to know Christ. In that case we share:
        1. Our life before Christ.
          1. Share how Christ rescued you or has kept you from certain things.
          2. When we are rescued we share about it.
          3. Share how Christ helped you with anger, or anxiety, or alcohol, or anything else.
        2. How we came to know Christ.
  • Our life after Christ.
  1. We all have a testimony.
  • Accept your mission
    1. We all have a mission: Matt 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    2. Do you realize there are only two things you can’t do in heaven? One is sin; the other is share the Good News with people who have never heard it. Which of those do you think is the reason God is leaving you on earth? Obviously, sinning isn’t the reason.[5]
    3. Be humble
    4. Be real
    5. Don’t lecture
    6. Write about It
    7. Write your story out on paper.[6]

Don’t waste your pain. Allow God to use it for God.

We are never too old to be used of God.

Swindoll, Laugh Again pages 92 and following:
I came across an article way back in 1967 that I still return to on occasion. Entitled “Advice to a (Bored) Young Man,” it communicates how much one person can contribute, if only—Many people reading this page are doing so with the aid of bifocals. Inventor? B. Franklin, age 79. The presses that printed this page were powered by electricity. One of the first harnessers? B. Franklin, age 40. Some are reading this on the campus of one of the Ivy League universities. Founder? B. Franklin, age 45. Some got their copy through the U.S. Mail. Its father? B. Franklin, age 31. Now, think fire. Who started the first fire department, invented the lightning rod, designed a heating stove still in use today? B. Franklin, ages 31, 43, 36. Wit. Conversationalist. Economist. Philosopher. Diplomat. Printer. Publisher. Linguist (spoke and wrote five languages). Advocate of paratroopers (from balloons) a century before the airplane was invented.
All this until age 84. And he had exactly two years of formal schooling. It’s a good bet that you already have more sheer knowledge than Franklin had when he was your age. Perhaps you think there’s no use trying to think of anything new, that everything’s been done. Wrong. The simple, agrarian America of Franklin’s day didn’t begin to need the answers we need today. Go do something about it.

 

Prayer

[1]https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/gods-surprising-plans-for-your-good

[2]https://www.celebraterecovery.com/resources/cr-tools/8principles

[3]Baker Jr., John F.. Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits (pp. 272-273). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.

[4]Baker Jr., John F.. Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits (pp. 275-276). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.

[5]Baker Jr., John F.. Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits (pp. 277-278). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.

[6]Baker Jr., John F.. Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits (pp. 281-282). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.

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