Yes, we have a good God who allows pain and even sends pain.
Throughout the Bible and in sermons across the world we learn about this all loving, faithful, redeeming God. But with this world we live in, where no one is exempt from suffering, we at some time or another may find ourselves questioning, “Where is He?” and, “If He is all loving and all powerful, why hasn’t He taken away my pain?” or, “Why did He allow me this pain in the first place?”
I found myself in this exact position and asking these same questions March of 2019. I had recently become a wife to a wonderful husband and a mother to a beautiful healthy baby boy when one day it was as if a switch had turned off and all that I could feel was darkness. I felt no peace, no happiness, and at times even love was difficult to feel. I did not understand what was happening but I would soon learn that it was not just going to go away. I’m not sure I can count the amount of times I cried out to God from the deepest part of my soul to take it away. This lasted for two and a half months. I lost 30 pounds and hated looking at the skin and bones that looked back at me in the mirror. It was in that time of darkness that I met a side of God that I had never known before. Through the pain, guilt, tears, and fear when I would call out to Him, He was ALWAYS there. Whether it was through scripture, another’s words, or just the moments of calmness I would experience, He was there. Through God’s grace and treatment my condition improved, however, two years later it is still something I deal with and experience occasionally.
I went through many different stages of standing in the valley with faith as high as the mountain that God would heal me. I went through deep muggy waters when I knew with every ounce of my being that He could heal me if He wanted to, but questioned what I had done to not deserve His healing. It was while I was reading Daily Grace Co.’s Book, “Faith Questions Suffering” that the still small voice of God whispered, “If pain and suffering was dependent upon one’s perfection or performance, then my Son would had never hung on that cross.” In that moment I realized that the most perfect human being suffered the greatest weight and greatest pain and that even He was not exempt.
Matthew 26:36-39 (ESV) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
God did not answer His own Son’s prayer, who had never sinned, who had never fallen short, who He loved with everything in Him. Jesus’ wounds were a part of God’s will. Sometimes the outcome, which only God can see, out weighs the pain. Sometimes our world has to be flooded with pain, confusion, and difficulty for us to notice and appreciate the rainbow after the storm. Pain shifts our perspective and pushes us in different directions that if we allow it, may lead us to a road of repentance and redemption.
There is purpose in our pain. God can take what the devil means for evil and use it for our good. But what shook me was the stories in the Bible when God allowed torment and pain to Job and even sent evil spirits to King Saul. Here we have two different stories of God agreeing to someone’s pain and then personally sending torment to someone. I was setback by this but when I dug deeper in the scripture it revealed to me two things. First, God trusted Job with this pain, that is why He agreed to it. God did not enjoy seeing Job in misery but He knew that on the mountain or in the darkest of valley Job would not turn from Him and his pain would reveal his faith. I once heard someone say, “if you only have faith when things are going your way then do you really have faith?”. Secondly, in regards to King Saul, God will take necessary steps in hope of our repentance and to force us out of our comfort in hope to draw us closer to Him and to reveal Himself to us. As it was said about the man in the Corinth church who was committing incest and adultery,
1 Corinthians 5:5 (NIV), “hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”
God’s purpose and will for every single person is to be saved and enter into eternity with Him. Just like a parent, we make hard and what even may seem harsh decisions for our children sometimes, not to harm them but in hope they will do good and take the right path.
Paul was another man, who as he stated, “was given a thorn in His flesh.” It does not state who gave him the thorn but it’s pretty safe to say it came from God.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NET) “…Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
If you have ever came in contact with a thorn you know for yourself they are not pleasant. Paul accepted this thorn because he recognized that there was a purpose for the pain. Pain pushes us to a place of vulnerability.. to a place of honesty with ourselves.. to a place of repentance. It reveals our need for a Savior.
God is so good and so big that He can and will use ANYTHING to reveal Himself to us. My lack of understanding of God lead me to questioning His character. With these questions I dug into God’s word and He revealed to me His goodness and His power. He revealed to me that He will allow me this pain if this is what will draw me closer to Him because he yearns for a relationship with each and every one of us. His desire is for us to desire Him and need and want Him. I don’t know if this thorn will ever depart from me, but what it has brought me is a blessing in disguise. It has brought me a relationship with my Savior that I may have never had, had I not experienced this pain. And for that I am forever thankful.