Part 1: Beware of Your Reactions to Pain
Bad things happen to everyone. We are injured by someone else’s wrong decisions or actions. We have a stillborn child. While we are not responsible for the wound, we are responsible for our reactions to it. We get bitter towards the other person. We blame God or assume wrong things about His character. We may blame our family or friends for letting us down and causing us pain. We may even blame ourselves.
The devil is the Deceiver-in-Chief. He delights in taking a painful event, feeding you a wrong interpretation of it, and getting you to believe it. Or, he tells you a half-truth. The part about the pain is real so it is very easy to believe the wrong interpretation of the event. For example, let’s say you are dealing with a chronic disease. The disease is true. It happened. However, the devil points out that God could heal you if He wanted to. Therefore, God must not be a good or loving god. Or, God must not love you enough to heal you. The conclusions do not follow and are not true—but, in the midst of your pain, they may seem true. You then proceed to live your life as though you are dealing with a god who does not love you—even if you came to your conclusion subconsciously.
Think about the painful events in your life. Have you come to some wrong conclusions based on them?
Satan doesn’t have any new tricks. His half-truths and aspersions on God’s character go back to the Garden of Eden when he implied God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit because He was withholding good things from them. The knowledge of good and evil must be something good and God was preventing them from possessing this knowledge. You see his same tricks in the story of Job’s loss and in Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Unlike Adam and Eve, Job and Jesus did not buy the lie.
We make decisions based upon what we think an event meant. If God didn’t send anyone to my aid, it must mean He has more important priorities than me. If I was ignored, it must be because I am insignificant.
We want the pain to stop. Our thinking is confused. We base our perception of reality in that moment. Logic, rational discourse, objective thinking, and Bible reading are given low priority. We react out of pain, frustration, exhaustion, anger, hurt, fear, and the voices in our head telling us what is true. We believe a lie because it seems so true and we desperately want to avoid further pain. We might even make a “vow” like: “I will never allow this to happen again.” Have you been there?
We must be careful about making snap interpretations upon which we base future decisions. Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves because God doesn’t seem like He’s going to. Based upon the strong emotions created by the pain, we hold these newfound “truths” close to our heart and even think they are “self-evident.” We then base our lives on those apparent truths. The problem: Satan sneaked in a lie, and we didn’t even see it. Solomon was right: “As a man believes in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
Next week, we will talk about some of the strategies we use to try to stop our pain.