How to Find Purpose in Pain to Pursue God's Greater Vision for You
Updated: Nov 3
This month’s guest blog is by Arris Charles, founder of Live Inspired by Purpose. I know you will be blessed and encouraged by her heart to help others live according to their purpose.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
You may be wondering what God’s purpose in pain is for you. You may not always know the specific purpose for your specific pain, but you can take steps to know God’s purposes in your specific situation.
You might be a mother whose heart is feeling the pain of feeling helpless as your young adult child is taken captive by addiction.
Or maybe you were looking forward to enjoying midlife and beyond with your spouse, but now you suddenly find yourself alone because of divorce or loss.
Or perhaps you feel overwhelmed dealing with limitations or pain from health challenges.
Whatever the pain you feel, you’re probably trying to hold onto hope and wondering what the purpose in pain in your life could be.
You may even be wondering if God has any purpose for you anymore, doubtful about any positive future vision for your life given the circumstances you have little to no control over.
What is God’s Greater Vision for You?
God doesn’t want you to be so consumed by your pain that you’re feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless, or restless everyday due to your circumstances.
God’s greater vision for you is to live with the power, hope, freedom, confidence, and peace that only He can give. And pursuing this vision starts with living within His purposes.
God has purpose for all believers to love Him, love others, grow in Christlikeness, and make disciples.
God has purpose for all of His followers to carry out His will in our homes, relationships, jobs, communities, and in all aspects of our daily life.
And God has a specific purpose–or calling–for each one of us based on our unique design.
Your best intentions in all of these areas of purpose can be hindered when you’re struggling with pain in any area of your life–physical health, emotional and mental wellbeing, relationships, work and finances, and others. This can weigh heavily on your soul.
But you can be uplifted and empowered if you seek God to understand His purposes for you in the season you’re in. And once you’re focusing on His purposes, God will reveal His specific vision for you to pursue in all aspects of your life–without the pressure or unrealistic expectations you may put on yourself.
What Does It Mean to Find Purpose in Pain?
You know you have purpose in your life. But when you’re in the middle of pain from disappointment, trials, and suffering, you may ask, “Is there purpose in pain?” or “What is God’s purpose for pain?”
And you may often hear the phrase “find purpose in pain”. But what does that mean for you in the middle of your struggle–where you likely can’t imagine a purpose “for” it?
If there’s a purpose “for” your pain, it may or may not be revealed to you. But purpose “in” your pain and “through” your pain can be found. So the answer to those questions is that “there is purpose in your pain”.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Finding purpose in pain means to uncover how God is calling you to grow spiritually and personally within your circumstances, as well as how He may be leading you to make an impact on others through your situation.
So, How Does God Use Our Pain?
God uses your pain for His purposes in 4 ways so that all things work together for your good and His glory:
1. Purpose to Grow in God
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
Choose to lean more into God, trust Him with your struggle, and seek His will. You’ll find increasing peace and joy in His presence and expand the depth and breadth of your spiritual walk.
2. Purpose to Grow within Yourself
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 (NIV)
Take time to observe and evaluate your thoughts, feelings, words, and behaviors in light of what God’s calling you to in your spiritual life and personal character. You’ll walk farther on the path of becoming more like Christ, reflecting God’s love to others, and being set apart from the world.
3. Purpose to Grow within Your Life
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NASB)
Make choices that build a lifestyle that honors God, supports your well-being, shows love to the people in your life, and stewards your resources well. You’ll be productive in what really matters, pleasing God and living with more peace and balance.
4. Purpose to Grow in Your Calling
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in becoming more aware of your gifts, being a model of God’s love, and making an impact for His glory.
You’ll embrace your significance and touch lives in the unique way you were designed to make a difference, living with more fulfillment as you fulfill your specific purpose.
How Do You Find Purpose in Your Pain?
Pain and purpose can co-exist. And purpose can prevail over pain. But it’s a process and it’s necessary to trust God “in” your situation and “with” your situation so you can follow the path toward His vision.
You can follow these 10 steps to invite God fully into your hurt, nurture a healthy response to your struggles, and explore His purposes for you in the middle of your specific pain so you can pursue His vision for you in this season.
Recognize the presence of pain without minimizing or dismissing it.
Clarify the types of pain you’re experiencing in different areas of life.
Identify the effects of pain within yourself, in your life and on others.
Bring your pain before God for healing, comfort, strength, and wisdom.
Take care of yourself by managing expectations and practicing self-care and soul care.
Seek personal, practical, and prayer support from spiritual companions and those who have walked a similar path
Seek God’s power and guidance to move from being overcome by pain to being led by purpose–even in the midst of your struggle.
Keep a mental or written account of your path of pain, perseverance, lessons learned, and solutions found, as well as God’s presence with you so you know how to encourage or help others in similar situations.
Reflect on how God can use your pain in alignment with your God-given passions, gifts, and abilities to impact others.
Pray for and consider opportunities to use your pain in doable ways to be a light for God, help others, and make an impact in the world.
There is meaning even in the smallest meaningful act–-even a smile or a kind word or message can make a difference. So you don’t have to feel pressure. Just feel His presence. ~Arris Charles
There is meaning even in the smallest meaningful act–-even a smile or a kind word or message can make a difference. So you don’t have to feel pressure. Just feel His presence.
If you lean into God, even as you experience pain, you’ll be empowered to do what God is calling you to within yourself and your life “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 NIV)
Trust God. Take intentional steps to discern His purpose and vision for you. Faithfully obey His will for you. And may you be encouraged that you will not only find purpose in pain, but begin to be set free from the heavy weight pain bears on your soul as you rest in the Lord.
How Do You Walk with God to Move from Pain to Purpose?
While you’re in the process of understanding how God will use your pain, you still have to work through the pain with Him to move from being consumed by your pain to being compelled by purpose. You can read about the steps to move from pain to purpose in How to Walk with God to Move from Pain to Purpose in Hard Times.
Arris Charles is a Life Purpose Coach and founder of Live Inspired by Purpose. She helps Christian women in midlife who feel stuck struggling with self-doubt or lack of direction to pursue their God-given purpose in their daily life and as their unique calling so they can live with more passion, confidence and impact.
Knowing what it’s like to lose yourself in a career that doesn’t fit who you are and what it’s like to have your kids and family be the focus of your whole world, Arris brings both experience and empathy to her life’s work.
Both detailed and creative, she blends detailed analysis and inspired vision to help her clients dive deep, dream big, and take bold action toward a new vision for their life. Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/liveinspiredbypurpose