World changers typically have their greatest impact where they have experienced the most personal pain.
In The Alchemist, the Shepard loses everything to live his Personal Legend.
Victor Frankel is sent to a concentration camp and clings to hope by finding significance in the suffering, saving countless lives by helping others do the same.
Fredrick Douglas escaped from slavery and then courageously told his story of anguish and pain to fuel the fight against it.
There can’t be redemption if there wasn’t first a fall.
The Hero’s Journey
The hero always experiences an “all is lost” moment before the dramatic rise. (tweet that)
The hero’s greatest struggle then transforms into their greatest strength. Purpose ripened with pain, not just for redemption for themselves, but for the world around them.
You can’t create a masterpiece without mashing, sculpting, and molding the clay–and then throwing the whole thing in the fire.
In the Bible, there is story after story of a great promise spoken over someone and then a direct detour into the desert and prison.
Abraham, King David, the Apostle Paul, Joseph, yes even Jesus, the main-squeeze himself, was “led by the Spirit” to spend forty days and forty nights alone in the desert.
In probably the most memorable and publicized desert experience, Moses led the Israelites through a little 40-year jaunt through the desert. 40 years!
But the thing about Moses is that he just didn’t spend forty years in the desert, no he spent eighty! Yep, 80 freaking years!
Before leading the Israelites through the desert, he spent forty years prior with the Midians in “a dry and arid place,” similar to the desert he’d lead his people through.
As Os Hillman writes,
“The desert was a place of preparation for one of the greatest assignments given to one man. Did you hear what I just said? Yes, the desert was the place of preparation. Moses was battle-trained in the same environment he would spend another forty years…What kind of assignment is God preparing you for? Does He have you in the desert of preparation? Learn well the lessons you are there to learn. You may find you are called to be a deliverer, just like Moses.”
Maybe God’s not punishing desert-dwellers, he’s preparing.
Maybe your purpose is so important that it can only be forged in the difficult and the dire.
As Dallas Willard writes,
“All great works are prepared in the desert, including redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artist in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night.”
No water, no food, and no shade — it’s easy to die in the desert, no doubt about it. But if we can stay alive here, with all our old comforts burnt and blown away, well then we can stay alive, and thrive, anywhere else.
Something significant happens to us when we are void of what we depended on.
There is significant purpose and promise in your pain.
The pain you are experiencing now might be your life’s purpose later. (tweet that)