I remember the first time I saw the t-shirt. He stood about 6’6″ with a chiseled chest, telephone poll arms, tree trunk legs, and a v-shaped torso. He was a Marine. “The shirt inscription,” you ask? It said, “Pain is weakness leaving my body!” As I stood there and looked at him, all I could think about was the pain leaving my body if I ever angered him! I could not even begin to imagine the pains of military service and purposeful work-outs he had endured to become such a physical specimen.
The second quote I remember just as well. It came from Dr. Lee Roberson. Dr. Roberson served as the pastor of the Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for “forty years and six months.” During that time, he endured the loss of his daughter, Joy, and many others trials. He commonly said, “Trouble borne in the spirit of Jesus Christ produces greatness in the life of the believer.”
Pain is undoubtedly a pivot-point in our lives. Because of it, we either flee to Christ or flee from the Lord Jesus. Pain, channeled in a Christ-like spirit, can drive out spiritual weakness in us.
The Apostle Paul self-described himself as suffering the “loss of all things.” He endured much pain. On one particular instance, he was given an unidentified thorn in his flesh. He called it, “the minister of Satan to buffet me.” It was a pain from which he sought to be freed, but upon three seasons of prayer the pain endured. Then, we read the voice of Jesus speaking to him, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (II Corinthians 12:9-10).
Paul came to realize that pain borne in the spirit of Christ produced greatness in him. There was a strength that made him weak (the arm of flesh), and a weakness that made him strong (the power of Christ in us).
We may not wear the t-shirt around, but God can enable us to so endure our spiritual and physical pains that others will observe that we have been in the spiritual weight-room with God, strengthened with might in the inner man. Selah!