You’ve been through a tough season of pain. You’re finally beginning to heal and discover hope again. You feel like you’re beginning to understand the meaning of the word, Resilient. You are bouncing back from the unthinkable, but you still crave something more. What is that you crave? Purpose. You read of heroes of old. Heroes like Esther, who used her suffering and her position to change the trajectory of history. You consider heroes of today, those in your life who inspire you. You, too, desire that God would use you—and maybe even use your pain. But how?
It is quite simple, actually. Despite your suffering, you have talents, gifts, and abilities, right? Maybe they are a bit dusty due to a season of discouragement, but they are still there. Now, marry those strengths with your greatest point of pain, and you have a beautiful formula for purpose:
Strengths + Sufferings = Purpose
What does that formula look in real-life terms? Let me give you some examples:
- A gifted pastor with a history of childhood sexual abuse uses his terrible experience to educate, and more effectively minister to his parishioners who have suffered the same kind of abuse
- A woman who easily connects with children and was once abused by her husband volunteers to provide childcare in a shelter for survivors of domestic violence
- A widowed man with the gifts of mercy and compassion leads a support group related to grief
- A woman with the gift of hospitality who lost her child to cancer serves as a greeter at a special luncheon hosted for grieving mothers
- A wise businessman who experienced the trauma of divorce offers financial coaching to those who are adjusting to the financial challenges of separation
- A teen with a gift for writing whose mother spent years in prison writes notes of encouragement to other children whose parents are imprisoned
- An introverted woman who thrives in one-on-one relationships and battled a decade-long addiction to drugs mentors and encourages another female to overcome her drug addiction
- A gifted public speaker who has suffered many health issues teaches a class on nutrition
- A happily married couple whose marriage survived bankruptcy reaches out to another couple after the husband receives a pink slip from his employer
- A retired talented carpenter who previously lost his home to a tornado provides practical reconstruction help to those who have lost their homes to natural disasters
Obviously, there are no limits as to how God can use our suffering to produce something beautiful.
His creativity has no restrictions. Our job is to be willing and available for him to use us. If this discussion pulls at your heartstrings, then your next step is to simply submit. Submit your strengths, gifts, passions, and abilities to God. He orchestrated them anyway. Submit your hurt to God and be willing for him to use you if and when he desires. (No need to panic. God is probably not calling you to speak to audiences across the country about your greatest pains. He is far more creative than that.)
Then anticipate and be alert daily to opportunities. Next, it’s time to act. It’s time to allow your hurt to be used for greater purpose. Respond to opportunities. Lastly, enjoy the reward. God provides an extra layer of healing and joy when we allow Him to use something so uncomfortable in our lives to yield something so beautiful, to give back to others in a positive way.
Your pain doesn’t have to just end with pain. That would be doubly tragic. Pains end can be purpose. For an ultimate dose of resilience, let purpose begin!!
Donna Gibbs, author of the new release, Silencing Insecurity and Becoming Resilient, has been providing women and their families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse.
She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Mark, and her four sons where she serves as CEO of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC, with multiple locations in Western North Carolina.
Learn more about Donna on Facebook @DonnaGibbsResilience where you can follow her and read her weekly blog.