There are a lot of things we don’t see coming. I wish I could say I was prepared for anything. But that is sadly not the case. My life is nothing like I expected it would be. In this year alone, I have experienced more loss than I ever thought possible. And for what? What has been the purpose of it all?
What is the purpose of pain? And why do some people appear to suffer more than others?
“The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
I agree with C.S. Lewis. I compare my pain to others. My blood doesn’t boil at the reality of pain and suffering in my life. Rather it frustrates me when I see people that seem to not have any pain whatsoever! Most frustrating are the people that appear to have no faith in Jesus Christ but they seem to have little to no hardships. Living in ignorance of Truth does have its advantages.
Of course I know none this is true. Living my life for Jesus has never produced so much joy and satisfaction. Every one suffers. Either we suffer for the sake of Christ or we suffer because of our own sin. Some people are just better at hiding their struggles. Suffering for Christ on a daily basis seems to be the “MO” of the Christian life.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”C.s Lewis
We can’t ignore pain
Like C.S. Lewis said, it’s easy to ignore pleasure. But pain and suffering persist and nag at us until we do something about it. We must face pain at some point. Either we face it on our own time and choosing or the pain resurfaces when we least expect it. I’ve swung between both ends of this pendulum. I have freely chosen to deal with my pain while other times, I’ve consciously decided to mask the pain, thinking that it would “just go away.” It didn’t.
Pain and and suffering is a great equalizer. Everyone has suffered in some way. So why do so many of us try and hide it? Trying to hide pain is a like trying to hide a bleeding cut. If you don’t stop the bleeding and clean the wound, it will eventually bleed through the bandage and cause an infection. Pain must be dealt with. It will either be dealt with on our time and our choosing, or it will ooze out unexpectedly.
Unfortunately, the pain must be felt and experienced. We must experience pain in order for God to begin the healing process.
What’s the Point?
If I knew the purpose in all my pain, I sure wouldn’t be writing blogs! I don’t know the exact reason for every tear I have shed or every bit of anger I’ve felt. But I do know the God who does. And I know that He has a lot to say about pain in His Word.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-5
Pain produces perseverance and perseverance character and that character produces hope. So says the Bible… When I am in the middle of a battle, this is hardly the mindset I have. My default is to compartmentalize difficult feelings and not deal. I don’t like to feel pain or even tell others that I am in pain.
So why suffer? For Christians enduring this fallen world and suffering has two purposes: God’s glory and our good.
When we respond to suffering well, we practically demonstrate to the unbelieving world that Christ is more glorious and precious to us than any pain and difficulty we might endure. We have the opportunity to show where and in whom we find our true treasure. By placing our ultimate hope in Christ rather than in the temporary things of this world, God receives the glory.
For Our Good
Yet while we can maybe see how suffering well gives glory to God, we find it hard to imagine how suffering can possibly be for our good. The body sick with cancer, the paycheck that didn’t quite cover our expenses, the grief over an unsaved family member, the late night phone call that changes our life forever. The list of trials and sufferings many of us will endure is extensive. It may seem unimaginable, yet even as we ask God for deliverance, suffering as a Christian serves several purposes for our ultimate good.
Suffering sanctifies and purifies us. When earthly pleasures, things, and people are stripped out of our lives, it reveals where we have mistakenly placed our hope. Suffering draws us closer to Christ, because we don’t have the worldly comforts to rely on. The Lord knows that we have no greater good than to gaze firmly upon him and not the things of the world. So do not waste your suffering! Instead of throwing yourself a pity party (although I have thrown and attended several grand ones for myself), seek the Lord’s glory for your good in seasons of trials.