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Our Pain is Not In Vain

In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”

Luke 1:42 (NIV)

When I was living in Southern California, I had the opportunity to work as a chaplain in a few Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers. I was young, inexperienced, and although I had the best of intentions, I had a hard time gaining the trust of the men at those facilities. They did not think I could help them. A little frustrated, I asked some of the men why they thought that, and even though it took a while, they did give me an honest answer. They told me that they did not think someone like me could understand them. How someone who had never drank alcohol or used drugs could identify with them? They told me, “You have never walked in our shoes”.

Eventually I gained their trust and was able to help them, but they helped me too. They taught me to appreciate God's power to free captives. I also learned that we relate better and have more compassion when we help people who are going through what we have gone through. I think that was one of the reasons why Mary the mother of Jesus visited her cousin Elizabeth when she found out that she was pregnant. Maybe Mary was looking for the support of someone that understood her situation. Although Elizabeth did not conceive her child the same way, her pregnancy like Mary's pregnancy was miraculous.

Sometimes God allows us to go through situations that do not make sense to us. Many times, we do not understand why God does not avoid our suffering. Although we will not fully understand the reason for our pain on this side of heaven, our pain is not in vain. It gives us opportunities to bless others. The person who has been healed of cancer can boldly inspire those who are fighting against that disease. We empathize easier with the people who lose a loved one when we too have suffered that pain.

I think that God despite His love towards us allows certain tests to come to create in us a heart that can love, comfort, support and encourage differently those who suffer because we have walked in their shoes. When everyone looked at Mary with eyes of judgment because of her pregnancy, Elizabeth firmly declared her blessed. Perhaps the trial that you are facing or have faced may be what helps you declare blessings over the people who are suffering around you.

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