” He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
There is a part of me that cringes when I hear people repeat the old saying, “No pain, no gain!” I cringe because it often comes across as an almost flippant remark that signals the conversation is over. It is right on par with, “Oh well . . . life happens!”
Certainly there are lessons to be learned from painful experiences; but I believe that there is greater gain to be had in our day-to-day living as we honor Christ with our choices. In fact, I think it is in the mundane seasons of life that God shepherds our hearts in such a way as to prepare us for the difficulties we will later face. That is one of the reasons I love the Isaiah passage quoted above as it demonstrates the M.O. of our Shepherd: “He tends His flock. . . He gathers . . . He carries . . . He gently leads . . . .” Positively divine!
In reflecting on my own life, I recognize a multitude of times when God prepared me during a quieter season for a trial I would later face. One that immediately comes to mind is how studying I and II Corinthians during a quieter season would impact my response to a trial that hit me very unexpectedly two years later. In fact, I now recognize how God would later use that heart-wrenching season to help me better understand people and churches hurt by similar experiences years later. We may not be aware of it, but the Shepherd of our hearts is constantly at work in our lives.
The question to think about is whether PAIN is the necessary ingredient to developing personal growth? Not according to I Corinthians 13:3:
- “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
The pain of sacrifice is powerful, but if love for God and for others is not our primary motivation, the apostle Paul declares it counts for nothing . . . NOTHING! Want to experience true spiritual gain? Then love others as you have been loved by the Shepherd of your heart. Trust Him to tend to your personal needs . . . to gather what has been broken in order to mend . . . to carry you close to His heart . . . as He leads you to greener pastures. When we experience pain or disappointment, it is in our willingness to trust in the love of our Shepherd that we are blessed with the ability to love and to forgive. No love; no gain . . . Know love; know peace! (Isn’t that the gain we truly want?)
All to His Glory!