This is part two on my writings on pain. If you have not read part one you can find it here: The Problem of Pain: Part 1
Not many people enjoy physical pain, most avoid it at all costs. But I’d be willing to bet that most people would rather go through physical pain rather than emotional tragedy. There is something about emotional tragedy that cuts deeper and hurts more then physical pain ever could. Many of you as you read that past sentence relived a moment in your life that cut you deeply. Whether it was words that crushed you, a diagnosis that changed everything, or the loss of someone close; we are far more familiar with this pain then we care to be.
The most common question we ask in these times is why? Why me? Why now? Why would God let this happen? Why?
I’ve heard the explanation given to the problem of the pain in this world is that we live in a fallen world. We could just say that, put a bow on it, and call it good. I don’t think that answer satisfies anyone. Someone who just lost a loved one does not give a rip that the reason why they died was because the condition of the world. A parent who can’t afford to put food on the table for their children finds no comfort from knowing that the reason why is the fallen world they live in. I believe God offers more hope then a dry factually reason.
Unlike with physical pain, I don’t think there as much of a clear purpose for this pain. In fact I don’t think emotional tragedy has a purpose like physical pain does. Emotional tragedy is different. It hurts in a different way and can seem to be pointless. I don’t think we will ever fully understand the “why” this side of heaven. But I do believe in a God that gives us hope even in the darkest of situations.
It’s in this dark and seemingly hopeless situation that God intervenes. God is the master at turning the worst tragedies into something beautiful. Philip Yancy says it best in his book, “Where is God When it Hurts.”
“At the instant of pain, it may seem impossible to imagine that good can come from tragedy. (it must have seemed so to Christ at Gethsemane) We never know in advance exactly how suffering can be transformed into a cause for celebration. But that is what we are asked to believe. Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
I don’t understand it even though I have seen it dozens of times. God can take the most grave of situations and turn them into something beautiful. In the difficult times in my life I’ve doubted that God could make anything come of it. But He continues to prove me wrong time and time again.
We live in a fallen world full of pain. But our Creator cares too much to leave us in our hopeless state. What satan intends to destroy us God transforms into something that is beautiful.
While we might not ever have the full answer of pain on this side of heaven there’s a few things we can know. 1. God loves us despite our circumstances. 2. God mourns with us and understands our pain. The one who did not spare His own son to suffering understands the pain you and I are going through. We can find hope, peace, and comfort in Him.
I’ve experienced this throughout my life. In the darkest of circumstances there’s hope for those that turn to God. He mourns with us in our loses and picks us up from the dust. He’s in the business for restoring the worst of situations. In Him there is always hope for tomorrow.
There’s a song that I found a few years back by Shane and Shane that I think wraps this up. It’s one of the most challenging songs I have listened to. It’s a song that comes from the life of Job, who lived suffering in a way few of us understand. The song talks about despite our circumstances God is bigger and worthy of our praise. I find it incredibly challenging and encouraging at the same time. I get chills every time I hear it.
In the middle of the song there is a clip of John Piper speaking on this subject. It’s a powerful clip and wraps up the hope we have in God. If you don’t have time to listen to it, you can find the words John Piper says below.
“Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen. When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory. Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.”