No Pain, No Gain

“You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare His Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3 NLT
Derek Redmond was a great Olympic sprinter. In the 1992 Olympic Games, he was running well in his event, the 400 Meters, winning his first two qualifying heats with ease. In the semifinal, he started well, but midway through the race, something went terribly wrong. He tore his right hamstring, and knelled to the ground in sheer agony. Not to be deterred, he stood up, and hobbled on his good leg the next 100 meters even though the other competitors had already finished the race. Still having another 100 meters to go, he was joined by a familiar face that would walk with him the rest of the way; his father. As he sobbed on his father’s shoulder for the remaining 50 meters, the crowd at the stadium, which first started with a courteous applause, now had begun to cheer … louder and louder as they got closer to the finish line until his father and him crossed it. In Derek’s pain and suffering, he still lost a race. Because his father helped him across, he was disqualified. However, he gained a world of fans and appreciators that watched his heroic feat. No one remembers who won the race or even the gold medal for the 400 meters that year. Everyone remembered that moment (view it here –
Some of you cannot relate to this kind of story, but many of us had parents who sacrificed a lot to ensure we could have a better life. If so, I hope you appreciate all your parents did for you as mine did for me. They many times struggled, but it was the pain of that struggle that allowed my brothers and me to do two things. First, it set a standard for all our children to follow. Second, it garnered attention that served as a platform to speak about who we are and who we serve. These are the things that had me think about the writers of the Books of Thessalonians. Like many of the early Christians, they suffered for what they believed in to reach something greater. Something more important than a race. Instead, it was the salvation of all mankind. It reminded me of a saying my mother told me and what many of you have heard before; no pain, no gain.
Suffering is the currency of living a faithful life serving God. Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians speaks of the suffering they encountered prior to their writing. It is not the suffering that is of the greatest fascination. It is clearly the ‘why’ behind it. They saw a greater good in their suffering. It allowed them to share the Good News of Christ. It’s the suffering that gives credibility to their teaching. We often look at suffering as tests of faith, and that is often true. However, it is usually in preparation for something bigger that God has in store for you if you are willing to endure what comes with it. We must prayerfully discuss with God His purpose, and remember the words of Hebrews 10:23, which says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”
While no one should look to suffer, we should always view it through a Godly lens. Jesus Himself did not want to endure the suffering that came with the crucifixion saying in the beginning of Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father,” He cried out, “everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering away from Me.” But as we read the latter half, He acknowledged the ‘why’ behind His suffering showing love for both God and us completing His thought saying, “Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Whenever we are faced with suffering, let us remember our ‘why’ knowing there is something greater God has planned for His purpose. What pain and suffering are you enduring today that could use a Godly perspective? What lessons from the suffering of Jesus and Paul can you draw from in your life? My prayer is that we remember the purpose of suffering along with the saying, ‘No pain, no gain.’  Amen.
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About Kent:
“I am what all Christians are: flawed and always growing. I am not immune to failure, and I don’t always do the right things, but I learn from my mistakes, and always show love to all who I know. Furthermore, through Christ I have joy knowing I have His grace even though I didn’t deserve it and His love even as I can’t imagine it. I have written devotion for the past 14 years using my life’s experiences both before and after being born again and focusing on its relevance to Biblical teachings and today’s culture.”

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