Christianity 201

July 9, 2021

Book Excerpt: Don’t Waste Your Pain

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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A few years ago, after some contact four decades earlier, Paul Willoughby stepped back into my life. I later learned he had just released a self-published book, Don’t Waste Your Pain: The Journey from Brokenness to Wholeness and he generously provided a copy for me to examine.

It’s an amazing book. Equal parts of autobiography — including his (and wife Gloria’s) ministry nationally in Canada through Christian television, in local churches in Ontario, in Uganda, and in India — and exposition of key Bible narratives. There are 13 challenging chapters and each has questions at the end for personal or group reflection, as well as links to some supplemental online resources relating to each.

Book summary:

Have you experienced pain in your life?  I want you to know that you’re not alone and there is hope! While no one has gone through exactly what you have, many others have had deeply painful experiences. In “Don’t Waste Your Pain” you’ll join me and the people I’ve met as we share the lessons we’ve learned on our journey from brokenness to healing. As you do, you’ll find new purpose in life and discover how our experiences – even the painful ones – won’t be wasted!

Our excerpt today is from one of the teaching sections. Learn more about the book and how to order at dontwasteyourpain.com.

Gideon, The Reluctant Hero

The Bible says that Gideon was just a young man when an angel appeared and shocked him with the news that God had chosen him to lead the people of Israel. This was during a very difficult time in Israel’s history. Israel had been so severely oppressed by the Midianites, that they were living in constant fear, even hiding in caves so they could not be found. Anything they planted was stolen, all their livestock was likewise taken or killed. They were so impoverished, poor, and fearful that they finally cried out to God in the midst of their pain. But then the angel appeared to Gideon, telling him “God is with you!” Gideon was taken aback, stunned that God would call him of all people for this job. Gideon had a lot of questions – and a lot of excuses! They may sound familiar to you:

If God is with us, why did this happen to us?” he asked (see Judges 7:13). Like many of us, he probably thought God was not interested in his life or did not care about his people anymore. Things had gotten so bad that the Israelites probably felt that God had abandoned them. Or maybe they began to doubt the stories they had heard – maybe it was all made up and God did not exist anyway!

But even standing face-to-face with an angel Gideon still doubted. “How can God use me? My family is nothing, and I am the least in my family, I’m good-for-nothing!” (Judges 7:15 – my paraphrase!) I do not know if you have ever felt that way, but I sure have. With all my doubts, fears, hurts, and brokenness, I’ve wondered, “How can God ever use me? Sure, He can use someone stronger or smarter, or the person who seems like they have everything all together, but me? No way!” Yet the Lord is gracious. He did not give up on Gideon, and He will not give up on you, either! In Gideon’s case, the Lord even spoke a further word of encouragement to him: “I will be with you” (verse 16).

The rest of Gideon’s story details how he set out with 32,000 men to attack the Midianites. Even with all those fighters, Gideon was still fearful. Yet God told him something strange: “you’ve got too many men, Gideon! If you win with all your troops you’ll boast about your own strength!” So God instructed Gideon to send a bunch of soldiers home. He eventually ended up with a handful of men (300) against an army of trained and fierce fighters. But God worked miraculously and Israel defeated the whole Midianite army. And guess what? It was God – not Gideon or his army – who got the glory!

Gideon’s story illustrates what the apostle Paul was talking about when he said that it is during those times when we are weak that God can show Himself strong. When we do not hide our brokenness, but offer it to God, He can use it and make something beautiful, something victorious, out of our life!


Excerpt from pages 86-87 in Don’t Waste Your Pain: The Journey from Brokenness to Wholeness @2021 by Paul Willoughby; used by permission.

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