What About My Pain?
JUNE 16, 2014
How can a loving God allow such pain, suffering and evil in the world? The facts: God loves you. God is good. God is completely sovereign over your life and over the world. In the context of those facts, suffering is particularly hard from our human perspective because, when we suffer, often we see no purpose in it.
God sees the complete, finished picture, while we see only a small, small piece of it.
If God is really in charge of our lives and of the world, then He is ultimately responsible for everything in our lives, both the good and the bad…
In our logic, it seems that God’s love, God’s judgment and the condition of our world, don’t “add up.” We live in an evil, malicious world. Suffering exists to its full extent in every form. It would take much more than blindness to cover up this fact!
God can prevent suffering and evil. God can do what He wants to do. He is, after all, God. Read the first few chapters of Genesis, you’ll discover some answers there. In God’s love, He created the universe perfect and He created man with free will. (He did not create robots or puppets to blindly follow His commands; rather, man had/has the choice to obey and follow. God will never manipulate us.) Man, with his free will, chose to disobey. Evil and sin came into the world through man’s disobedience. Because man disobeyed and broke God’s law, evil pervades the universe, then and now.
We must not overlook the presence of evil in every one of us as well. If God executed judgment uniformly, not one of us would survive. Suppose God were to decree, “At midnight tonight all evil will be stamped out of the universe,” which of us would be here at 1:00 a.m.?
God has done everything necessary to meet this problem. He came into human history in the Lord Jesus Christ and He died. Every individual who willingly responds, receives His gift of love, grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. C.S. Lewis has observed that it is idle for us to speculate about the problem of evil. The problem we all face is the fact of evil. The only solution to this fact is God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
Probably the greatest argument for God’s love is the fact that He withholds full judgment. God is holy; we are sinful. For that reason alone, we deserve death. Holiness and sin cannot stand together. Not only withholding full judgment, God sent His Son to die in our place, to satisfy those demands of His judgment.
Above all, we have to be careful not to put any limits on God’s sovereignty. If God is not sovereign over our lives and over the world then He is not God. More immediately, our problems may be due to our mistakes, misjudgments, falling to temptation, a political or social situation, Satan’s interference and/or the logical, fallen world consequences to our actions, among other sources… But, ultimately, God is responsible.
There is always a purpose to our suffering and to our problems, even though we may not know the exact purpose at the time. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). When faced with pain and suffering, we can trust in the fact that, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6) and “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
The fact is, if God is not sovereign over the world and over our lives, then our suffering, pain and problems have no meaning whatsoever. God’s sovereignty would be plain scary if we didn’t also know God’s character… but we do know His character: God is our loving, Just and perfect Father. For this reason, we can trust Him.
While we don’t know why God allows certain things in our lives, in the lives of others and in the world… He loves us. He is pained by our disobedience and rebellion. He sorrows over the pain and sin of the world. He is working out His perfect will and purpose in our lives.
Perhaps one of the most crucial questions to ask is: How do you trust God in the midst of pain? Ask God for an ability to trust Him. Read through the Bible, noting God’s trustworthiness in the lives of people, regardless of their rejection of Him, pain, bad decisions and outright sin. And, finally, take a good look at your life. Has God ever failed you? Has He stood by you through all the pain? Have you grown as a person and as a Christian through both the good and bad times? (That is one sign of God’s work in our lives.) Look at God’s faithfulness in the past to remind yourself of His trustworthiness, regardless of your feelings of doubt, pain, uncertainty and frustration on a particular day.
As an aside, there are gifts God gives only through pain—a compassion and sensitivity toward others; an enduring strength; and an earthy, intimate relationship with God, to name just a few. The fact is, God never wastes our pain… He uses it in our lives. Believe it or not, God uses both our pain and our sin—to develop our character and to draw us closer to Himself.
Join Philip Yancey on Steve Brown, Etc. for more about finding meaning in the midst of suffering.