When we go through times of pain and suffering we get so caught up in our circumstances that we begin to think we are the only ones going through a hard time in life. But in reality, there is an enormous amount of people who are going through hard times. One example from the New Testament is the apostle Paul. He went through great trials and sufferings for the name of Jesus (Acts 9:15-16). One thing Paul realized is that “through many tribulations we may enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). In 1 Corinthians 11:25-29 he lists the trouble he went through. He doesn’t do this to “one-up” us for the amount of afflictions he endured, but rather to encourage us in how to get through our own pain and suffering.
2 Corinthians 1:14 says that God will comfort us. Also, in the book of Philippians, authored by Paul, he states:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:4-13
We know two things about the peace of God by reading this passage. One is… Inner Calm and Equilibrium. Paul tells us to be content in every situation. We need to learn to be content in each situation and the peace of God will be with us. The second thing we know is not Absence, but Presence. It’s not the absence of negative thoughts that bring us peace, but rather it is the presence of God Himself.
Also, through this passage, Paul teaches us four disciplines to follow to develop peace in our lives. The first is THINKING. Philippians 4:8-9 tells us to think about whatever is true, noble, and right and the peace of God will be with us. When we are suffering, we cannot dwell on the bad things, but we need to think about the things that are true, noble, right, pure, and so forth. Instead of getting away on a vacation to “relax” our minds, we need to do the opposite and think about the “big issues in life”. We need to “count up” our thoughts and think them out instead of looking for an out and letting them go. Peace comes from a disciplined “thinking out” of the implications of what you believe.
The second discipline Paul teaches us is THANKING. Philippians 4:6 says “Don’t be anxious about anything, but make requests to God with thanksgiving”. Paul is telling us to thank God before He even answers our prayer. Why would we do that? Because he is teaching us to trust God in His entirety and that He will work our lives according to His good and perfect will, even if that means not answering our prayers like we expected. We need to trust that God knows what He is doing because He alone can see the eternal perspective, we cannot. Only He can work it together for our good. We need to thank Him for His sovereignty before because we know that He is sovereign.
Finding peace amidst pain and suffering isn’t the easiest to do, but we need to equip ourselves with all that God has provided for us in the Bible in order to find peace. There is a way to find peace. To learn the last two disciplines to developing peace for your life check out Painesville Assembly of God’s podcast on “Pain and Suffering” by Pastor Aaron Taylor, Lead Pastor, “Prescription for Peace”.