‘Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” ‘ Genesis 16:9-10

‘When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty ; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” ‘ Genesis 17:1-2

‘You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. ‘ Genesis 17:11

‘But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. ‘ Luke 6:35


God’s promises are great, but they are not always easy. In these passages I see a pattern that the promises of God are often accompanied by pain–and conversely, the pain that God leads me through is accompanied by promise. God demanded deep pain in the life of Hagar by commanding her to return to her cruel mistress Sarai–yet He gave Hagar the same promise concerning her descendants that He had already given to Abram. God required intense pain in the life of Abram through the form of circumcision, yet He accompanied it with a covenant of relationship. In Luke 6, Jesus requires a very painful act of submission in my life today by commanding me to love my enemies and do good to them–but He accompanies it with a promise of sonship and reward to come.


Modern culture and modern Christianity make it easy to slip into the mindset that “pain indicates a problem”.

This situation is painful for me, so I must not be in God’s will…” These verses make it clear to me that pain and promise are not mutually exclusive: indeed they are inseparable during my time here on earth. It strikes me as important though, that God’s purpose is not to bring pain. God’s purpose is to accomplish growth within me, which will enable the fulfillment of the promise in my life.

Hagar had to return to Sarai in order for her son to be raised by the great patriarch Abram and fulfill his destiny. Abram had to endure the pain of circumcision as a sign that he was submitting his very essence as a man to the creator–thus setting the precedent which would teach his descendants to also honor God, and live out the covenant promise. Today I must submit my will and my emotions to God by living out His humble love even to my enemies–thus developing the mind of Christ in me, and incrementally transforming me to be more like Him.

The fact that I am in pain is not a bad sign.

The fact that I have enemies is not a bad sign.

The fact that I am uncomfortable is not a bad sign.

These are rather perhaps the most trustworthy signs that I am exactly where I need to be. Instead of focusing on the pain, I need to remain focused on the promise.


God, thank you for Your promises in my life. Help me to remain faithful, and daily become a little more like You. Help me to not get wrapped up in focusing on my own discomfort when life is painful, but instead keep my eyes on the promises You have set before me.