My Sunday School teacher pointed out something I'd never thought of. It was an aha! moment for me.
When the Israelites were in bondage as slaves to the Egyptians, they were constantly lifting and moving heavy stones. Their bodies must've been in great shape. When they left Egypt with Moses to go worship God, they probably didn't realize how all the physical labor as slaves was going to benefit them. God had them build a rather large and heavy altar for sacrifices, and the instructions included moving it on poles. They needed to be physically strong to do as He commanded. God had prepared them through the pain of slavery to be able to worship and obey Him.
In the midst of pain, it often seems that God is far away. And if that pain is a result of bondage or slavery to something, it may seem that it's unfair or too harsh. It's easy to wish the pain away, to want it to be over. But God may be using that pain to prepare you to worship and obey Him.
In my case, the pain I experienced as a result of my bondage to sin made me angry. I just wanted the hurt to go away. I didn't want to acknowledge that the pain was necessary to lead me to a place of healing.
Now on the other side of healing, I can see how God let me experience the pain to prepare me for what was ahead. I needed that pain to be able to share in the hurt of the people God puts in my path. Had I not experienced the pain, I wouldn't know how to pray for others walking the same path as I did. I can now relate to those who experience hard, painful times as a result of their sin. I can assure them that God can create beauty from ashes. I can offer them hope that healing is worth the pain.
And each time I share in another's hurt by listening to their story and by sharing mine, I worship God a little deeper.
Has God prepared you through pain and affliction to better worship and obey Him?