When you think of pain, what immediately comes to your mind? I think of emotional pain. Immediately I can recall experiences when I’ve been in great pain or stood alongside a friend who was.
The dictionary defines pain in various ways. “suffering or discomfort.” Some popular synonyms are “agony”, “suffering”, “affliction”, “torture”, and “throbbing”.
I recently composed a list of names of people I’ve been praying for. They are in pain, some physical, some emotional, and some both. The bible says we are all part of one body, so when one part hurts, the whole body suffers. And when one part is really doing well, the whole body rejoices! (see 1 Corinthians 12:26) Very true, for when I think about the pain some of those I know are going through, I can barely stand it.
In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah describes his pain. It is some of the most horrifying scriptures I have ever come across. Please, take a moment, click here, and read his words. This man is in absolute agony, and it’s obvious that he is pointing his finger at the origin of his pain. God. In fact, he begins the chapter by saying, “I am a man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.” He leaves no doubt as to how badly he is hurting and who is the cause.
By adding one and one, we conclude that Jeremiah felt not only horrendous pain but also fear. Putting myself in his shoes, I can not imagine feeling those ways and not being afraid. The proof is in verse 17 where Jeremiah said that “God had removed his soul afar off from peace.” Since his soul was not at peace, we conclude that it must have been in a state of turmoil, unrest, inner struggle, worry, doubt, and God knows what else.
Why does God allow such pain? I believe there is more than one answer, but let’s cut to the bottom line: “pain, death, and suffering entered the world when mankind fell from grace. In other words, everything was going along well and then Adam and Eve started craving apples. God is omnipotent, therefore, this did not come as a big surprise to Him. Adam and Eve fell into sin and from then on all of mankind was born into the sinful nature. God loved us so much that he sent his only Son, that whoever should believe on him, should not perish in sin, but instead, have the option of choosing him, everlasting life. (John 3:16)
When we choose Jesus, we need to understand that this does not automatically make us exempt from pain. In fact, Jesus said that we have to take up our own cross to follow him. The cross means one thing: death. We are saying then, that we are willing to “die to sin” and be made “alive in him.” (see Romans 6:11) That is painful to our flesh man.
There are many reasons why Christians suffer. Here are a few verses you can click on that might help you understand the why…
but my favorite of these is Psalm 119:71.
This shows us exactly the reason why. As much as we might not want to admit it, pain causes us to draw nearer to God. It brings change. It causes us to grow. God knows that and God allows that.
Now that we have established that pain can be a good thing for us, do we still want to get rid of it?
I do! Let’s be honest. Who do you know that wants to be in pain? Of any sort? So how do we soothe ourselves (or one another)? How do we get rid of agonizing pain? Let’s turn our focus back to Lamentations 3 for a moment. We see Jeremiah agonizing, probably writhing in pain. He takes twenty verses and describes what he is experiencing and it isn’t pretty. But then, in verse 21, notice what happens. Jeremiah recalls something and it gives him hope! He remembers from times past, or maybe even watching others, that God’s compassions don’t fail. They are new every morning. His faithfulness is great! He recalls that “the Lord is his portion”, and says “therefore, I will hope in him.” Jeremiah has hope! He recalls in verse 31 that the Lord won’t cast him off forever. The truth of the matter is that God said, “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.” And he doesn’t! But Jeremiah felt like he did. And many times so do we! God does sometimes stay quiet and not answer us for a period of time. And that can often feel like forever, especially when we are in pain. But he is always there. We can always lean on him. We can always take him at his word, for it is righteous and it is true.
I will leave you with a few more scriptures to hold on to, to help ease your pain or that of a friend. Even if you are like Jeremiah and you don’t feel like what God is saying in these passages is true, decide to believe them anyway. God does not, God CAN NOT lie.
Please feel free to leave comments and thoughts. Perhaps you’d like to share about a time in your life when you felt God had left you alone and you discovered otherwise?
Blessings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.