What are You Going to do with the Pain?
Reverend LaWanda Smith Long, M.Div.
How to move forward in the midst of pain
Carrying the pain of the past or the present into your future can be problematic. It will not seem like you are moving forward but repeating the same thing over and over again, staying in place - stagnant. Moving forward denotes a change: a change of perspective, a change of mindset, a change of place, a change of response, a change for the better.
Moving forward contains the hopes, promises and plans of God for your future. But if you are carrying pain and living in that pain, nothing will change. You can move to another place, but you will still attract the same drama. You can change boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse: different names, but the same hurt, the same spirit will come blindsiding again. You can change jobs, going from being excited to complaining about the job, supervisor, co-workers, pay, etc. Different job, but the same sadness or same spirit of “I hate my job-itis” until you answer the question God has for you today: “What are you going to do with the Pain?” Let’s look to Romans 12:2a:
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
To conform means to go along with or to follow. We are not going to continue to conform our pain like the world by responding in destructive outward behaviors such as anger, harassment , revenge, posting derogatory things/pictures about someone on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc. This is transmitting pain outwardly toward others. This is destroying others. Nor are we going to conform to the world by transmitting pain through inward destructive behaviors such as drinking too much, sleeping around with various partners, doing drugs, worrying, staying stressed out, overeating, or holding the pain on the inside by not seeking help when we are hurting to the point of suicidal thoughts.
Keeping secrets and denying the pain by hiding yourselves with fig leaves and hiding from God - this is how the world will try to conform you to deal with pain: by destroying yourself.
So what are we going to do with the pain? We are going to transform the pain into something positive instead of transmitting the pain.
God wants you to be transformed by His Word. God is not looking for you just to conform, but wants you to be changed by His Word and to prove His will in your life. Some people go to church because that is what you do on Sunday mornings…it is just out of habit. No change. Some people join church because it looks good on their resume to be connected to church…church attendance makes them seem like a decent person. No change. Or some people go to church to cover up all the shame of what they did Saturday night. No change…just cover up. They still are carrying the pain to and from church every Sunday with no change.
Let’s take a look at a man who knew something about pain. Remember the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10? Let’s see how he handled pain.
The Prayer of Jabez
“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying “Oh, that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain.”
Books have been written about this short prayer, and the power of this prayer has been a blessing to many who have prayed it.
Jabez means pain. Did you know that? Jabez’s mother named her child pain when he was born. His childbirth appears to have been so difficult for his mother that she named him Pain.
Be careful about speaking what is a time period of suffering in your life to declaring it over your entire life. Let’s learn what Jabez did to transform his pain:
- He prayed to God and gave the pain to God.
- He asked for God to bless him indeed… in the midst of his circumstance.
- He watched his words. He did not speak ill of others nor himself.
- He asked God to enlarge his territory, or to enlarge his sphere of influence to make a difference for the advancement of God’s kingdom. He had the right attitude.
- He asked for God’s hand to cover him, and that he would not transmit pain.
- God granted him what he requested.
Jabez transformed his pain by renewing his mind and proved God’s good and acceptable and perfect will for his life. He did not ask God to just rename him. He was transformed by the renewing of his mind concerning his name, and he changed his perspective about pain.
Reverend LaWanda Long, Chaplain at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), answered her calling to the ministry in 2005 after 17 years as a Bible study teacher and women’s speaker in Venezuela, Germany and throughout the United States. She completed her Master of Divinity at Emory University in Atlanta in 2008, followed by a three-month Clinical Pastoral Education internship at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta.
Following her internship, Rev. Long’s Clinical Pastoral Education residency throughout 2009 was at Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia. There, she provided spiritual care to veterans, patients and employees. She conducted spiritual assessments of those she served and led worship services and spirituality groups. She was ordained in 2009 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Covington, Georgia and served on the church’s ministerial staff and women’s ministry. Prior to joining CTCA, she worked as hospice chaplain between 2010 and 2013 in Roswell, Georgia.
Rev. Long is a member of the Enon Baptist Church in College Park, Georgia, and enjoys spending time with her family and reading.