Pain and suffering

 

Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like to address the subject of pain and suffering. As we all know, pain and suffering come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. We often think of pain and suffering in the physical realm, for this is how it is made manifest many times in our lives. It comes by way of disease, act of violence, accident, or some other means. Sometimes it is even self inflicted.

Another type of pain and suffering comes by way of the emotions. It strikes the mental state of a person. Sometimes it comes as a result of prolonged physical illness or disease. Other times it may be caused by deep emotional distress, such as a loss of a loved one. Many times, physical pain and suffering are easier to handle than emotional.

Pain and suffering, whether in the form of physical or emotional, are a direct result of manís sin. Pain and suffering came into the world when man sinned against God, when he rebelled against His Word. God told Eve that she would experience pain during childbirth. From that time to the present we have seen many forms of pain and suffering all relating to sin.

Pain and suffering is something common to all of mankind. In Romans 8:22, "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." It knows no boundaries. It strikes the rich and poor, the young and the old. It doesnít matter where a person lives. Pain and suffering will find itís way into every personís life sooner or later. No one is exempt.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that Christians do not experience pain and suffering the same as everyone else. This false notion is purported by false teachers that attempt to sell a Gospel known as the "Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel." This false, unbiblical teaching would have you believe that if you only had enough faith and confessed all of your sins that you can be healthy and wealthy. The Bible contradicts such a notion.

The Bible, Godís Word, cites numerous examples of men and women that loved God with all their heart, had faith in the greatness of God, yet had times in their lives where they suffered greatly either physically and/or emotionally.

David is one such example. God referred to him as "a man after Godís own heart", yet there were times when David experienced immense emotional pain and suffering. On one occasion when David was young, King Saul put out a bounty on Davidís head. The king himself tried to kill David on two occasions by throwing a spear at him. All David was doing was serving the Lord and doing what was good and right. Because of Saulís anger and threats upon his life, David was on the run for his life for many years.

Listen to the anguish of soul that David expressed in some of the Psalms that he wrote. Ps 55:1-7, "Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me. My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness."

And again in Psalm 22:1-2; 14-17, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent." "I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me."

Interestingly these are the very verses that Jesus quoted from as He hung on the cross and describe the pain and suffering he went through for you and i. The physical and emotional pain and suffering that Jesus went through is beyond our ability to comprehend. We also read this of the pain and suffering of Jesus. In Luke 22:43, "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Isaiah 53:4-5, "Surely He has borne our griefís And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." John 11:35, "Jesus wept."

Because of all that Jesus has gone through, we can come to Him with the realization that He knows what it is like to go through pain and suffering. He is not a God that is far off and distant from His people, He can relate. In Hebrews 4:14-16, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." 1 Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." Isaiah 66:13, "As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you."

Because of who God is and His great power, He is able to take the pain and suffering in our lives and use it for our good. I know this may sound a bit strange, but it is true. Through the pain and suffering that we experience, God makes us more compassionate and sensitive to others that are going through similar experiences. As God comforts us in our times of difficulty, we are able to reach out to others in their difficulties. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

God also uses times of pain and suffering in our lives to bring us to where we need to be. In Psalm 119:67, 71, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes."

Hebrews 12:10-11, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Romans 8:28-29, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

Godís ultimate desire for all of His children is to make us more like Jesus. Many times, God uses the pain and suffering in our lives to accomplish this. At times it is difficult to understand, but be assured, God knows what He is doing. There is much more that could be said on this subject but we have run out of space.

If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail ccalpine@juno.com

Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine