on solving the problem of pain…

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” –1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Take time to consider your creative side. We all have one—a creative edge to our personalities. Some of us writers, painters, musicians, chefs, singers, cooks, sewers, teachers, marketers, photographers, scrapbookers, gardeners, planners. The list is endless, and while you might not consider yourself particularly creative, you cannot escape the label. Why? Because you’ve been created in the image of God. Accordingly, there’s something about you that resembles the creative pulse of the Creator.

Along these lines, I have a question for you. It didn’t originate with me. It belongs to Jeannie Burlowski. She first asked it of me a couple of months ago during a pre-conference seminar for She Speaks. The session was designed to better prepare writers for their upcoming publisher meetings at the conference. Part of the preparation included writing a book proposal—a thirty-forty page document detailing an idea for a book, a marketing plan, and a few writing samples. As Jeannie was discussing the various components of the proposal and how it should be presented to publishers, she said something that interrupted my note-taking and forced my thinking.

“How does your book … your words help solve the problem of pain?”

Sit with that a minute. I did. In fact, I’ve sat with this question ever since first receiving it. It struck me back then; it strikes me still. The problem of pain and my words as a healing agent therein.

Really? Seriously? Apparently.

You see, no matter how I turn it, consider it, and think about it, I think she’s right. Not just as it pertains to me as a writer, but to all of us who create. We’re all in the business of solving pain. We may not realize the importance of our roll in the matter, but at the root of all creativity is this idea that art solves pain. We create because it brings us pleasure; in doing so, it brings others pleasure as well. Otherwise, why bother to pick up the pen or the paintbrush or the cookbook? Creativity helps to heal the wounded. And who of us haven’t felt some pain? Who of us haven’t “created” in an attempt to salve the pain of others?

And so, as you consider your creative bent, I ask you the same question I’ve been asking of myself over these past months. How does your creativity—whether in music, words, pictures, recipes—help solve the problem of pain? I know. It feels weighty, almost too much responsibility attached to our giftings.

Nonetheless, we cannot escape the reality that our “art” is a direct reflection of our God-given talents. The generous dispensation of creativity that Creator-Father has seeded into each one of us requires that we share it with others. In doing so, we bring joy to the earth. Whenever we create we sow eternal life, goodness, and hope into the temporal soil of pain.

Without art, we all suffer. Without creativity, we tend to forget the Creator. Without vision, we remain as we are, and left as we are, we’re unfinished.

There’s a whole lot of pain in this world yet untouched by the creativity residing in you. Your giftings are meant to be applied to that pain. Don’t underestimate your creativity just because it looks different from your neighbor’s. We shouldn’t measure our artful reflections against the artful reflections of others. It’s not fair to our DNA, and it certainly undercuts the witness of our Father’s fingerprints on our lives.

He made each of us unique, different, and with a specialness that can only display its worthiness through the skin delicately designed to hold its beauty. You are the owner of that skin, and you are given the rich privilege of unveiling your creativity as a healing agent to the problem of pain.

Take your creativity seriously, friends. Live it wildly, and share it liberally with the world. I, for one, have been the direct beneficiary of your giftings; they’ve have gone a long way to help solve the problem of my pain. Keep to it. I will endeavor to do the same. As always…

Peace for the journey,
PS: What does your creativity lead you to create? How does it help solve the problem of pain? I’d love to hear from you.

31 Responses to on solving the problem of pain…

  1. My creativity is evident in my writing — whether essays, articles, poetry, or blog posts. And I pray that they touch someone's pain from time to time — I've heard that they do.Also love to sing, especially to our Creator.

  2. I have an intersting relationship with my creativity! My first passion is speaking, however, I cannot speak without writing. Writing is not my first passion, but it seems to be the way the Lord is getting my message, that of creating a godly legacy, out to hearts. I pray about this daily because I know the Legacy Bible study that I wrote last year can and will go places that I will probably never go to speak. So, my prayer is for God to place that product of my creativity in places I may never go and use the words He wrote in the study to touch lives I may never physically see.

  3. Oh my goodness, Elaine! How you've opened my eyes this morning! I've always jokingly (but seriously) stated there is not one creative bone in this body….because I've compared myself to others' abilities to do things I can not do…..sew, paint, draw….. I recall once my sister telling me "but you sing!" (but not well)…and I thought how could that be "creativity"!!

    Truly my eyes have been opened this day by your post….I should feel ashamed to think that the Creator, who gave me my abilities, gifts, that I have shrugged those off, not seeing their importance in other's lives..especially in mine!

    Thank you so much for this post! It was for me, my friend!



  4. I like this. I think my writing, being inspirational, does that. Even in my current WIP, the character is dealing with her own pain and through situations, learns how to deal with it.

  5. wifeforthejourney:

    It is one thing to acknowledge pain on an intellectual level, "oh yes, pain is part of life," and quite another to experience it first hand. There is something about suffering that "proves us" like no amount of academics ever can. Pain is indeed part of life, but it is how we choose to respond to pain in our own lives that gives credibility to our creative expressions.

    Credibility. Something lots of us talk about, most of us aspire to, yet few of us want to endure the tests and trails that lead us to the place of credibility. We cannot have the wisdom of age without growing old. We cannot triumph in a sport without committing to having our bodies in top condition. We cannot offer hope and encouragement to the hurting IF our own lives have been relatively free of hardship – or if we do, it is a very shallow kind of encouragement. There is a credibility gap that can only be filled in by experience – and this is the place where our creative expressions can really take off.

    I love how you are working through your own artistic expression. You have not allowed cancer to be your ruin. Your writing, your opinions, your thoughts and feelings have credibility – not just because you are a statistic recorded by the American Cancer Society but because you have endured and your creative spark has not gone out.

    You have shared, at least in some small measure, in the suffering of Christ – and your faith continues to grow. That is a story the world will stop and listen too for as long as you are willing to tell it. Though there are a lot of your readers that will come and go from your blog in the days ahead, I love being your audience of one.

    You are the best! Love,
    ~ Billy

  6. These are good thoughts this morning. Creativity? For me, it's through humor and writing and creating things, and I have always thought that what I am writing is God's way of dealing with my own heart, and a reflection of what I am learning as I go. I love how His gifts are always for us and for others. I love to encourage, and in doing it, I am also encouraged. You love to teach, and you are also being taught. His whole plan includes all of it… how great is that! 🙂


  7. When I think of things I do creatively, and try to think how they can touch someone's pain, I realize that I just enjoy doing things that make me smile and hopefully, make others smile too. Sometimes, a smile is all we need to keep plugging along. Things that lift us out of the mundane, things of whimsy, things of beauty that can make someone smile. A smile won't erase anyone's pain, but hopefully give them what they need to take another step, and then another! Thanks for such beautiful insights, Elaine!

  8. Much of my song writing comes from seeing the pain of others and wanting to somehow reach out and put their thoughts and feelings into song, but also show the way to victory…knowing that music is one of the greatest healers.
    Another side of my creativity shows in our yard…although I'm better at the landscaping and planting part….not so much in weeding and maintaining….much like my writing; I have great ideas, but struggle with the details! I hope that a pretty yard in some way can soothe someone's pain…even if it's just through enjoying the photos!
    Though I never would have thought I could write a screenplay,I hope that our movie project will also be a way to reach out to others who are struggling.

  9. Now I'M sitting with that questions. (I'm sitting close to your Billy, if you don't mind. I like his comment almost as much as I "like" your post!)

  10. Interesting point. I know that my desire is to encourage others with my writing, but I've never thought of it exactly as you just put it…to use my creativity as a salve to another's pain. You are right, it is a weighty responsibility, but a good one. As children of our Heavenly Father and CREATED in His image, it is a blessing to use whatever gifts, skills or talents to serve Him and thus help others. Thank you for your wise perspective.

    Living for Him, Joan

  11. Wow Elaine… I'd never considered artistic expression as a form of "pain relief", but what a fascinating perspective.

    I'll be thinking and praying on this one… Thank you as always for challenging me!

    Have a Blessed Day!

  12. You have touched my heart today……I believe that our creative endeavors touch others in a deep way and bring relief from pain which we all have in one form or another….

    God has put in me a love for the creative process and therefore, I am always trying new art forms. Interestingly enough, He seems to always put someone in my path for me to share a just completed project…It's so exciting and I love watching Him direct me to that specific person..

    I could go on and on as you have really touched an issue that is very close to my heart…

    Hugs and blessings,
    By the way, I am your newest follower and I hope to visit with you often.

  13. I have never though of my creativity being a means of relieving pain, much to consider.
    I create with my camera and thinking about it, I do use it in ways to bring joy to others.

  14. What a wonderful thought to ponder… and I will be pondering it. It has encouraged me tonight… and I wonder what creativity will be unleashed so that others will be touched… How cool is that!

  15. Wow what a thought to sleep on tonight. I pray that the words God gives me to speak or write offer hope. Hope that they can find harmony in everyday life because God loves them

  16. we have a ministry making prayer shawls by knitting and crocheting…also cancer caps, scarves, and sometimes prayer cloths (pocket-sized squares to encourage praying and/or being reminded that someone is praying)

    Many, many times we've run low and thought we wouldn't have enough, and God grows our stack exponentially. We gather weekly to work on our projects and we pray over the weekly-finished items. We have a website…

    come visit anytime 😉

  17. Thank you Elaine for sharing this truth! It should motivate us beyond our lethargy, beyond disappointment and self-doubt.

    You write "Without vision, we remain as we are, and left as we are, we’re unfinished."

    I would add that left as we are, we drown in our own neediness.

    Bless you as you glorify our Father by ministering to the pain in the world. HUGS~

  18. What great insight. I've never thought of art/talent healing pain. Can't stop pondering it now that you mentioned it. Thanks for the nugget!

  19. Interesting thoughts Elaine! I must admit that most of my life I have just been a Martha (do, do, do). In recent months I have found myself 'doing' nothing. It seems I have never truly allowed myself to think about a giftedness or creativeness regarding my life. I would have no clue as to what type of passion would bring salve to somebody's pain, joy to my heart, or pleasure to the Lord. Points for my aching heart to ponder!!

  20. My creativity is in my writing and sharing of tea. I think of it as allowing us to have some breathing room…taking in His fresh air. I leave the rest up to Him. HIs plan is always better than mine.
    Blessings my friend

  21. One of my Bible study girlfriends says she isn't creative, however, she can send cards and send them she does. Her "card ministry" has touched hundreds of people whether they need cheering up, a get well wish or a note of sympathy. Sometimes she just sends a "thinking of you" card to brighten their day. She's a great example of the many ways God brings us together to help one another.

  22. Your post is right on. I can't tell you how much my painting helped me in my healing. You can see as I healed how the paintings went from dark colors and subjects to light. When I paint I feel closer to God and all the negative thoughts just fall away. God's creativity flowing through me played a tremendous part in my healing from pain.I

  23. Wow. That's really quite deep. Right aways I can't help but think of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11: We have pain, and for a purpose. It's so we become comforters to others who'll have pain.

    I pray and hope-beyond-hope that my every breath & every act is that: a hand up to those that need it.

    Love you,

  24. i love this post. even the idea that we all are "creative" in some way b/c we've been created in the image of God. wow. (i never considered myself creative). thank you for the encouragement, thank you for reminding us of the important work God has given us on earth – helping solve the problem of pain by pointing to Jesus through the gifts He's given.
    love ya.

  25. My creativity…is exhausted right now…Or is that just my physical well being? Whatever it is, I just rely on people like you during those times!!

    Living in His Embrace~Pamela

  26. You are so right. Comparing our creativity is what hampers so many people from using their creative gifts, that they don't even see as creative. I sing, I write, I teach, and because those are outward talents, people immediately think I am more "creative" than them. But I couldn't plan an event, I'm a terrible hostess, I can barely balance a family budget let alone a business. There are so many creative abilities I don't have, but God called me to use the ones I do have. Thank you for showing us that we are all gifted.

  27. Elaine, this is so beautiful. We just finished our book club discussion over at the High Calling on Luci Shaw's book, Breath for the Bones: Thoughts on Creativity and Faith (or something like that) in which we discussed much of what you talk about here. It was such a great discussion, such a great book. I really felt, as one commenter said, mentored by Luci through the whole book.

    Such wonderful thoughts here too. I"m really thinking about that question. It is challenging me. I"ll be praying about it.

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