Stewardship. Just hearing the word can make us cringe, even skip church when we know “Stewardship Sunday” is coming.
Perhaps we feel that way because we mistakenly think of stewardship as “money.” However, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of SOMETHING entrusted to one’s care.” And yes, “something” can be money. But it can also be natural resources or possessions or time or health. Even pain.
Pain? How can we be good stewards of our pain? Pain of a broken marriage? Or the death of a loved one? Or the loss of a job? Maybe our battle against cancer? Or the torment of a nagging health problem? How, God?
The words of Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 point us in the right direction:
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (NIV)
That’s right. Overflowing joy and rich generosity can come out of the most severe trial. C.S. Lewis referred to pain as “God’s megaphone,” saying that God shouts to us in our pain. And as we listen to Him, allowing our pain to bring us closer to Jesus, joy and rich generosity can overflow in our lives. When that happens, our pain is not wasted but used for God’s glory.
It’s not easy. But let’s look at that definition of stewardship again. “The careful and responsible management of something ENTRUSTED TO ONE’S CARE.”
God has entrusted pain to our care?
Our natural resources, sure. Our property, okay. But why our pain? Why me? Frankly, we may never know this side of heaven.
But what we do know is that the Savior who bore our sorrows and took our suffering and pain to the cross loves us with an everlasting love. And if He entrusts painful things to our care, He will be there with us, providing His grace and His strength to manage them. AND helping us find joy in the midst of them.
The third verse of the hymn O Love that Will Not Let Me Go expresses it beautifully:
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
May we all seek to be better stewards of everything God has entrusted to our care. And may the Joy that seeks us in our pain find our hearts open and ready to offer that pain to the Lord so that the rainbow in the rain shines forth with His glory.
In honor of the family and friends of all those who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on our country.
Linda Veath Cox is a regular contributor to DivineDetour. She recently retired after twenty-five years as a district office secretary for the State of Illinois. Her first loves are studying the Bible and reading, but she occasionally tries her hand at writing. Her work is published in All My Bad Habits I Learned from Grandpa (Thomas Nelson), The One-Year Life Verse Devotional (Tyndale), Life Lessons from Grandparents (Write Integrity), Love Is a Verb (a devotional from Bethany House), and Chicken Soup for the Soul’s I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That. She lives in a small town in the Midwest with the “Bone Mafia,” her two indoor/outdoor mutts.