The months after high school graduation are usually followed by change, by excitement, by joy, by all the things. My life after graduation, however, was different. Four months after I graduated (and just six days before my birthday), I was participating in a basketball tournament, a fundraiser for my friends’ basketball team. If you’ve ever met me, or read any of my previous devos, you know that I am no superb athlete. In the semifinal game, I was grabbing a rebound after a missed shot, and another player fell into my knee. My knee went in every direction it shouldn’t have, and the pain began.
After some doctor visits and MRIs, I found out that I had torn quite a few muscles in my knee, needing surgery. Surgery happened, recovery started, and after seven months, I was back to normal day-to-day activity. The pain was still there, but it was manageable. I didn’t think much of the entire process. I never thought of what God would do through that experience.
A little time passed, and Blake Clickner (my then-boss) asked me to go see a student who had just had knee surgery. What are the odds that this just fell into my lap? I was able to make the student laugh, we talked about sports and kept his mind off the fact that he was restricted to a bed for the coming weeks. I was able to connect to this student because of our shared pain.
More time passed, and a student that I was very close with, a student that I led on a weekly basis, had found out that, because of a recent injury, he would need surgery. I was able to spend a lot of time with this student, hanging out at his house, bringing him food, and just trying my best to keep his mind away from the pain.
I hated the pain I was in, and constantly asked, “Why me God?” But I never thought that my pain would be used for such a meaningful purpose. Looking back, I didn’t enjoy the pain, but it allowed me to be used in ways I would’ve never imagined. It was my pain, but God’s purpose.
This has proven true so many times in my life, and probably in your life, as well. In the midst of the misery, we are very quick to give in and see our pain as simply that, but we rarely think about the long term. God will use our trials, our pain, our struggles, for his glory. He may use it in ways that we couldn’t imagine or picture, but we hold tight to the fact that our pain will be used.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
— 1 Peter 4: 12–16