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Why Do We Hold onto Pain?
By Bill Stone - July 29, 2011

Lesson Plan Written for “Never Knew a Father’s Love” Ministry


The word “pain” or some form of it appears many times in Scripture. The first time the word is used describes pain in childbirth Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The biblical context here is that Adam and Eve had sinned and the pain of childbirth is one of the consequences of sin. Because of sin, the whole earth was cursed, and death entered in as a result. Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. So, it may be concluded that pain is one of the many results of the original sin. Pain is only an obstacle if you allow its presence in your life to control you. For the purpose of this study, when I speak about pain it is not of the physical type like constant back pain or arthritis, it is emotional pain. Although physical pain can affect our daily consciousness- this kind of pain affects the subconscious and the heart.


No one-- can hurt you more-- than someone you love and trust. Deep within we have feelings and emotions directly connected to our heart and thoughts. This relationship of heart, spirit, and intelligence produces a product that eventually rolls out of our mouths and into the way we act and react. This is emotional pain. Within its jailed confines are the ingredients of anger, bitterness, and resentment. Oftentimes, emotional pain is not the fault of the victim but is the result of sin.


Luke 6:45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

Mark 7:20-22, and he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.

Hebrews 12:14-15, Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;


If your heart is full of pain, anger, hurt, resentment, and bitterness, then you should understand what comes out of your mouth. Here is an old saying; “Hurt people hurt other people




Emotional pain, if not dealt with, will affect our witness to the world, to those around us and to those we love. It will affect how we treat and relate to those who care about us, to our coworkers, or those we come into contact with on a daily basis.  No matter how badly you have been hurt, we are still held accountable. If we can't love each other, then we have no way to claim a real love for God. Our relationship with God is made evident by our love for others. 1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.


Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.



Our spirit is not entirely invisible; when you experience a deep sort of personal pain does your face reveal a happy countenance? We can see the pain in others. Holding on to pain and suffering has its deteriorating effects on our lives and those around us. One author on pain described it like this; “It’s like keeping your hands tied to a self imposed tether line.” James 3:3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 

Do you ever feel like your life is going around in the same reoccurring cycle? Does your life feel like the chaotic contents of a clothes dryer being tossed around inside? Do the same things keep happening again and again? Emotional pain can hold our lives in a fixed pattern, keeping us down or apart from the true freedom we deserve in Christ Jesus. It does not allow oneself to fully mature into the person God intended. Emotional pain is directly connected to our heart and blocks our ability to fully love as we were designed. Our hearts become filled and controlled by another source other than God.

Emotional pain creates an emotional focus toward the one who hurt us and this focus results in becoming just like the one we resent. That pain we hold onto is not in God's will for our lives. It becomes the enemy’s playground; a course of destruction disrupting the avenue of forgiveness and disconnects our priority to focusing our relationship with God. John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”Forgiveness is powerful.


Be able to recognize the enemy: 1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Here are some common thoughts or lies Satan wants you to believe:

* I will never ever be whole again.
* My heart has been shattered into a million pieces.
* I will never be able to recover from this hurt.
* I can’t let my pain go.
* I can’t move on with my life.
* I don’t know how to heal my broken heart.
* It’s impossible to forgive ____________________ .
* I’m afraid to let my pain go.
* It’s easier to stay in the pain than to do anything about it.
* I don’t deserve to be loved, respected, or cherished.



What is the greatest commandment? Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Notice how this verse, the greatest commandment, says ‘all’! God desires every area of our lives. We are to offer it ‘all’ to Him. So why do we hold onto sections of our life, past and present, from God? Is it because we tend to compartmentalize our relationship with God? In the book, “How to destroy your spiritual life”, by Ed Frank (, it says, “By compartmentalizing our spiritual life we allow the Lord to have control over only limited areas of our life while suppressing him in others. Although this practice is not always immediately detrimental, it ultimately always is.” He goes on to say, “Compartmentalization may also involve justification of certain sinful activities or actions with an attitude that God understands.”


God knows and understands our pain. God can heal you of your pain. We need to allow Jesus into every part of our life to truly have a healthy spiritual relationship with the Lord. If the enemy can stop the light inside of us from shining through, he will.

What is true worship?

Negative emotions affect the way we worship God. Worshipping God is not about singing on Sunday morning. Singing is simply an expression and praise, like dancing or playing an instrument. True worship is described in this passage by Paul, found in Romans 12:1-2 present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice. Presenting our bodies means giving God ‘all’ we are—heart, soul, mind, strength, thoughts, and attitudes. These and all of the rest of us are to be presented to God. How do we do this? Again, the passage is clear: “by the renewing of your mind.” We renew our minds daily by cleansing it of the world’s wisdom and replacing it with true wisdom that comes from God’s Word. We worship Him with our renewed and cleansed minds, not with our emotions.


Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.


God can and does use the pain in our lives to change our character. We must understand that God allows certain conflicts and pain to come into a person’s life for a reason. Spiritually speaking, one of the benefits of pain is expressed in James 1:2-3 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  According to James, when we endure painful trials, we can rejoice in knowing that God is at work in us to produce endurance and Christ-like character. This applies to mental, emotional and spiritual pain as well as to physical pain.


Pain also provides an opportunity to experience the grace of God. Consider what Paul said in this verse 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me”. Paul was speaking of a “thorn in his flesh” that was troubling him. We don’t know what it was, but it seemed to have been painful for Paul. He recognized that God’s grace was being given to him so he could endure. God will also give you (His child) the grace to bear pain. Pain causes us to recognize the consequence of sin. As a result, we become thankful to God for making a way for us to be saved.


In the course of changing one’s character, would a father want his child to desperately hold onto pain to the point where it destroys their ability to love? Pain involving anger, bitterness, and resentment only hurts our relationships and more importantly, disconnect with our Father in heaven. Think of the pain in your life that has come from others. Was God absent that day when you were hurt? No.Whatever His purpose, embrace it. God hasn't allowed this to cripple you, but to bring something good in your life.


Do we believe that we are punishing those that caused the hurt by holding on to the pain? Do you believe that holding on to the pain will keep you from ever experiencing new pain? If so, doesn’t that mean you will always be in some sort of pain?

*Sometimes we hold onto emotional pain because we do not know how to let it go.

*Sometimes we hold onto emotional pain to remain “connected” to that which caused our pain.

*Sometimes we hold onto emotional pain because we cannot and/or will not forgive.

*Sometimes our emotional pain is our identity.

*Sometimes it is easier to stay in the pain than to do anything about it.

*Sometimes we become addicted to feeling sorry for ourselves.

*Sometimes we hold onto emotional pain because this is all we feel we deserve.

*Sometimes we hold onto emotional pain because we don’t think we can move through the pain.

*Sometimes we hold onto emotional pain because we are afraid to ask for the help we need.


Emotional pain comes with bitterness and anger towards someone who you should already forgive. The joy of the Lord is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life and give you that joy you are keeping from yourself. Psalm 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.


Start with forgiveness: forgiving others, asking forgiveness from others, and then forgive yourself.  Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:25, “and whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

*Do not compartmentalize your relationships, especially your relationship with Jesus, surrender all and give it to God.

*Learn to ask for help from the Holy Spirit.

*Stay true to God’s word and obey His commandments.

*Make time with God, study God’s word, seek the truth, and know His promises for you.

*Take responsibility. Many times when you’re angry, you focus on what someone else did that was wrong—which essentially gives away your power. When you focus on what you could have done better, you often feel empowered and less bitter.

*Put yourself in the offender’s shoes and see them as God does. We all make mistakes and odds are you could have easily slipped up just like your husband, father, or friend did. The love, compassion, and grace given to us from Jesus dissolve anger, bitterness, and resentment.

*Metaphorically throw it away, write a biography of all the pain you have ever experience from your very first memory. Write a journal, keep at it no matter how painful, and then share it with someone you trust, or a safe group of believers. Afterwards, burn it or toss it away after giving it to the Lord!

*Identify the pain and what the experience taught you to help develop a sense of closure.

*Replace your emotional thoughts with the truth found in scripture.

*Replace your thoughts. The enemy will always try and return, shift your thought process to something more pleasant.

*Learn true worship. True worship is God-centered. It is obedience to Him and His Word.

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