Confronting Pain

Youth Specialties
July 8th, 2016

This post is provided through a partnership with S.O.U.L. MAG, a FREE urban ministry and lifestyle magazine created to serve youth workers and the Church. 

The last time I remember seeing Scott was at my wedding reception.

He was one of my closet friends and he drove all the way down to Tampa from Philly to be one of my groomsmen. Less than two months later I received a phone call informing me that he was killed on the street in front of his house. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I argued with my friend on the phone, hoping she was mistaken, or maybe playing a twisted joke on me, but it was true – my friend was gone. A few days later I was on a plane to Philadelphia to go and pay my respects. The pain of unexpected loss was overwhelming.

Before hearing the devastating news of my friend’s death, things in my life were going great. I was a newlywed, enjoying my new life with Lucy in our first real apartment. I was on this new journey as a youth pastor, and our youth group had grown from four girls to a couple of dozen teens in just a few months. On top of that I was enjoying my first winter in Florida as a permanent resident. I felt like I was in paradise living the dream.

Nehemiah’s life was great before he received some life-changing news too.

He was living in the palace – in paradise, living the dream. As the royal cupbearer, he had access to the finest of food and wines in the kingdom. Then he got the phone call. Hanani told him about the condition of the Hebrew people, his people, and the walls of Jerusalem: they had been destroyed and the people were in great distress. It rocked him to his core, and his heart was broken with compassion: “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).

Nehemiah was part of the Jewish population that had been displaced after the Babylonians conquered them. He was disconnected from what was happening back in Jerusalem and could have easily gotten over this feeling of compassion for his people. He could have shed a tear for his people and returned to life in the palace, but God wouldn’t let him. He was rebuilt. When you are truly rebuilt, God regularly takes you out of your comfort zone as you are called to help others rebuild.

I was disconnected from what was happening up in Philly. I hadn’t lived there in many years, so I could have shed a few tears, made a phone call or two, sent a sympathy card and stayed in Florida. But I knew I needed to get uncomfortable, go back and confront my pain.

Living in a sin-sick world, we are destined to experience brokenness, pain and failures.

Rebuilding will and must be a part of the maintenance of your soul. We have many people we call family, whether they are blood related or not, and they have brokenness, flaws and issues just like we do. If we really love them and care about them like we say we do, then we must be part of helping them rebuild their lives as well – that’s what real family does.

Too many of us have become numb to pain. Ministry can be a painful place. People let us down, leaders let us down, kids let us down. It can be an emotional roller coaster. Ministry can make us feel bi-polar at times. The best day ever can turn into the worst day ever in two seconds flat. How do you deal with that pain? That’s critical. Many of us learn how to brush it under the rug and try to keep it moving. We get so busy with our work for God that we don’t find time to confront it, unpack it and heal from it. Then there are others that are literally paralyzed by their pain. They get stuck. They just can’t seem to move forward. This can lead to bitterness and possibly even sinful habits that medicate the pain. We can’t effectively rebuild others unless we are rebuilt… or at least we’re in a rebuilding process ourselves.

So what pain have you been ignoring?

How can you learn to process it in a healthy way?

Who can you talk to?

What spiritual and physical disciplines can help you rebuild from it?

Nehemiah was unattached to the hurting people within the crumbling walls of Jerusalem, but he was still broken by their pain and suffering. There are hurting people all over: in our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country and overseas. My prayer is that God will break our hearts with compassion for those he calls us to reach. Pain and loss have the power to connect with hurting people when we allow God to soften our hearts and work through our suffering. Like Nehemiah going before the king, we must trust God with the tough situations in life and act in obedience and wait for his timing. We must confront our pain. Going back to Philly to my friend’s funeral was one of the toughest things I ever did. See, I wasn’t sure where my friend’s relationship was with God. That was super painful, but despite the feeling of regret I had, God used this event as a catalyst in my life. When you confront your pain, God can use it to fuel your energy toward your calling and your future.

UrbanD_RB_Instagram2I invite you to join me on a rebuilding journey and grab some of your teens to be a part of it!

We created a free 5 week video curriculum complete with downloadable worksheets and discussion guides. The video for session one starts with “Confronting Pain” as it unpacks this topic even more as we shot it in Ybor City. Check out all the free resources at this link:


tommydTommy “Urban D.” Kyllonen is the lead pastor @ Crossover Church in Tampa, Florida. He has recorded 8 hip-hop albums and written 3 books. He loves art, music and basketball… but, he recently ruptured his achilles tendon playing ball… so he’s been on the bench with his crutches.

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.