It is during these times of a holy pain that God seems to begin a very personal work in us. He begins His process of pruning and purifying. These times of “holy pain” are holy because God has given it to us for His good and perfect purposes. It is holy because it has as its goal Christlikeness. It is painful because it strips us of things we have grown accustomed to having. It is painful because it removes things we have grown to love. It is painful because the Almighty uses it to tear down those God substitutes, the idols on our lives we have grown to love and cherish more than we love and trust Him.
If we look at it from God’s perspective, it is a holy pain because through a very lonely process, He begins to remove all those things that either are or have the potential of competing with Him. At times God gently inflicts holy pain to get our attention. At other times God overwhelms us so our idols instantaneously crumble to the ground. There are times when God seems to “zero in” on those things which are most important to us; those things that we’ve allowed to have places in our heart that are reserved for God alone. Sometimes God sets His sights on “my precious” as Gollum would say and we forbid God from touching that which is so important to us. Our defensive response to the possibility of losing “my precious” reveals that it must go. Sometimes that which is removed is a friend, a role, money, social standing, reputation or a position we have. If we love it more than God, it may be pruned from us and the holy pain of God sets in.
God does not afflict with holy pain because we’ve been “bad” or need to be disciplined. Holy pain may come because He is taking us to new depths of a relationship with Him. What may seem like punishment is actually blessing. It causes us to look inwardly into the corners of our being that need His restoration and a deep repentance. When God afflicts with a holy pain we are forced to to look at ourselves; our sin, our weaknesses, and those things we have clung to instead of God. It is painful because our over-inflated views of ourselves burst before our eyes and we are forced into the arenas of brokenness and humility.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 – A Holy Pain – Copyright 2003, Chris Miller, D.Min. Used by Permission.