Faith and Life: Learning to live with pain

What is meant by “Faith and Life” in the title of this column?

The “faith” element is probably obvious. It encompasses theological truths presented in such a way as to help us in seeing how the spiritual and God’s truths affect, heal and inspire us as humans.

The “life” component touches upon our daily issues, the facets of human life, including: the personal, relational, emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological parts of who we are.

Viewing life as a whole, both spiritual and psychological, demonstrates how faith and emotions play into who we are. Both help us discover answers to problems we face, make meaning of our experiences, and take action so we are emotionally healthy and able to be all God created us to be.

This is important for our own contentment and health, as well as that of our families, friends, places of work and other areas of life that are necessary and meaningful to us. Integration helps us to attain peace, purpose and pleasure.

This truth assists us in finding answers that set us free from spiritual and emotional pain.

Pain often feels unnecessary and torturous. But the Bible views it with a purpose: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5a)

I have lived a life of many trials: childhood abuse, being the victim of a violent crime as a teenager, having mentally ill loved ones, witnessing domestic violence, divorce, betrayal, and having a child with a rare, potentially life-threatening disease. Without these painful experiences, I would never be able to treat and minister to people who have suffered any of the above.

While I rarely felt hopeful in the midst of deep pain, and I often wondered why God allowed me to suffer so many diverse trials and abuse, once I was brought through them, I rejoiced. To go through trials and find healing is the way to build character. And we do not attain wisdom from living pain-free lives.

Although often hopeless in the trial, I now rejoice at how God has used my healed pain. Trials develop all the above Scripture denotes: perseverance, character and hope.

If you are in pain now, hold on. The day will come when you look back and something has changed in you. And the painful depression or the sting of a loss no longer consumes your emotional life.

Psychologically, pain can be used to gain resilience, motivate us to act, change and grow. Pain, if processed and integrated correctly, makes us wise and stronger in the end.

However, pain that leads to debilitating hopelessness or depression needs special care during that season. When one is in a spot such as this in life, they need care. It would be cruel to ask them to have more faith or pick themselves up by the boot straps.

To tell someone they are “sinning,” or any of the following: “I told you so; this is a consequence of your actions; you are just feeling sorry for yourself,” is cruel and reinjuring. Shame, judgment and lack of compassion heal no one.

I do not see one example of Jesus doing any of these things in the Bible. Damaging statements and opinions do not heal. Depressed and hurting people need to heal before they can step back into life and see the wonderful character and hope that they have developed. This often takes guidance, love, professional therapy and medication.

I am not just addressing mental illness. I am writing of those who have lost a child, a marriage, their home, have a special-needs child, an abusive spouse, have been slandered, experienced sexual abuse as a child, or have an ongoing painful medical condition — to name a few.

The list of trials and tribulations is long and diverse. But sometimes we are not psychologically stable due to pain. Pain is not a rare thing. This is why faith and psychology are vital in healing the wounded, weary and worn.

Spiritual health assists us in finding purpose and meaning. Emotional health is having insight and understanding of the psychological parts of our lives.

Spiritual issues, mental illness, relational, health or financial problems — the kind that brings us to our knees — can lead us to health and strength that we never would have attained if we did not have the pain.

This is what “Faith and Life” is about. I see living examples of this every day — and when I look in the mirror.

The Rev. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN is a licensed marriage and family therapist and can be reached by email at, or by mail at Kimberlie Zakarian Therapy, Inc. 2233 Honolulu Ave. Ste 310, Montrose, CA 91020.

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