Random thoughts on pain from Psalm 107

The low notes and the minor keys of my life must be told… and retold.

It is from them that I’m being rescued.

The high notes of God’s grace are forever told in Scripture in a song that begins with the sad notes of death and despair.

Psalm 107 is the song of the redeemed. The song of the “rescue-children” that I will sing with millions of other rescue-children.

Psalm 107, with its sad and low notes, will endure forever.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. -Isaiah 40:8

Even the “new song” in heaven will speak of death, blood, and purchase from the slavery of sin:

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, -Revelation 5:9

On that great Day, when my Master finally wipes away all tears, pain, and evil… even on that Day… He will not wipe away the memory of the past. Only its pain, its presence, and its power.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:4

Pain’s Prison

Emotional pain and distress… the valley of the shadow of death…

My natural brain wants to do several things when the windshield of my mind is filled with pain:

  • fix it
  • run from it
  • numb it out
  • blame myself & others
  • shut down and go blank

My natural path in pain is to in-grow into it… enter into it as into a lonely prison.

In the prison of pain, I believe lies:

  • God is distant.
  • God doesn’t care.
  • I’m too far gone from God.
  • I’ve sinned away God’s grace.
  • I’m too broken to ever be ok.
  • God doesn’t want to rescue me.

And lots more.

Pain’s Deception

In my prison of pain, I develop an identity. And my natural mind loves that identity.

I cannot control the pain, so I develop something I can control. My identity. My self-ruling desire, motivated by fear, will form its own truths. Here’s my natural identities that I love to create:

  • Helpless victim
  • Horrific monster
  • Hopeless & Failed Hero

Pain’s Purpose

Psalm 107 reminds me of what I need to keep re-learning… that He uses pain to cause me to cry out to Him.

Pain’s Path to Pleasure

When God uses my pain for His purpose, it becomes the path to my joy.


Pain causes me in desperation to cry to the only One who can truly give me the joy I was created for.

All other self-managed and temporary joys… I’ve tasted them all and they are empty. Not enough. They run out. They never go deep enough.

God’s joy… His comfort… it’s so deep and thorough that I can exhale, rest, and breathe in enough of everything my soul needs. And I breathe it in without any anxiety about “what if I can’t breathe in again? What if there’s no more?”

Christ is my life. Pain drives away all the false and empty idols that keep me from dwelling in Him.

Pain exposes the emptiness of all but Christ.

Please, do not pray that I’m relieved of emotional pain.

And please do not try to make my soul-suffering less.

Please… no shortcuts on God’s journey to joy.

So often, well-meaning loved ones and friends want to “lift my spirits.”

They want to make me “feel better.”

They want to give me a break, a diversion, a treat, or a mini-vacation.


If Christ alone can replace the pain-places with joy…

Pray that the Spirit of God does His work with the pain of my soul.

Pray that He leads me to Christ, and Christ alone.

And remember that He will use soul-crushing pain as a merciful method to lead me to His green pastures.

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron. -Psalm 107:10-16

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