“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20,21).
IF WE MAKE RIGHT CHOICES IN OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD PAIN, IT CAN HAVE A “REFINING” EFFECT ON US. We can be better people, with purer hearts, as a result of having experienced difficulty and overcome it. Indeed, pain can leave us with character qualities so beautiful they are fit to be taken into eternity with us.
None of us can rightly deny that our characters need some refining. If we compare ourselves to other sinful people, it may appear that the shape we’re in is not all that bad. But that’s the wrong comparison. The standard of comparison is Jesus Christ. A character like His is what we’d have right now if we’d never sinned, and that’s what God is wanting us to have in eternity.
Pain is a part of the process of renovation and renewal that we need to undergo. Given the seriousness of our malady — by our sinful choices, we have declared stubborn rebellion against the God of heaven — we shouldn’t wonder that radical surgery is needed to fix the problem. Cutting away the cancer that has invaded our souls can’t be done without our feeling some pain.
But God’s work of character renovation won’t need to go on always. If we’ve been cooperative while the renovation was being done, there’ll come a time when we’re ready — ready to inhabit a realm where there is no more rebellion against God and no more irresponsibility. We’re not there yet, but the time is surely coming.
So we need to remember the passing nature of pain. It’s an ugly reality, yes, but even now it’s not all of reality, and when compared to the reality that’s ahead — it’s waiting for those who’ve sought God faithfully — pain can be clearly seen as a temporary problem. At present, it happens that we’re still in the temporary part of God’s scheme of redemption. But the eternal part is coming, and that’s where our hearts and minds need to be fixed: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.”
“The beauty remains; the pain passes” (Auguste Renoir).