Finding Joy in the Journey

The Purpose of Pain

If God is love, then why do we have to suffer? Why is there so much misery in the world? Where is the cure for cancer?  Why do natural disasters take so many lives and destroy property every year? If God really loved us, He would stop all these bad things from happening, wouldn’t He? Is there even a God?

Have you ever had these thoughts? Have you heard someone ask these questions? I have. The easy answer is one that I’ve heard often. The world is evil because Adam and Eve sinned; now we all have a sinful nature. And the perfect world God created was cursed, ruined by sin and began to decay that day. It’s true. But there’s more to it than sin.

Have you ever stubbed your toe? It hurts, doesn’t it? Pain is a sign that something is wrong. Pain tells our brain, “Hey, my toe hurts!” Your brain makes you limp so your toe can get better. Pain protects. Pain is good.

No, pain’s not enjoyable; it was not meant to be. Pain is God’s way of getting our attention. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior (believing He is God’s Son and gave His life to atone for all the sins you’ve ever committed or ever will), the pain of sin will convict you that something’s wrong so you can confess it to God and ask for forgiveness. This restores your relationship to Him. If you sin and feel no remorse, you should pray and make sure things are right between you and God. Pain is another way God proves He loves us. Without pain, we would see no need for Him. 

Have you ever wondered why Jesus came to Earth? He knew He came to offer Himself as our Passover Lamb. He came to die for us. Because He loves us that much.

As I look back at the last few years of my life, I can trace the origin of my pain. The death of our twins was the catalyst for me. The guilt that I felt was a heavy burden to carry around for the first 17 years. When I finally put that burden down I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. It was as if I had pushed “pause” on my life. During that period, I didn’t think much about my diet. Oh sure, I “dieted” (but I hid M&Ms and peanut butter cups for emergencies). My health was still good; I was overweight, but not obese.

It was about 15 years ago pain got my attention. And it’s been downhill ever since. Now I have pain in various places. And it ain’t no fun! I’m too young to be in the shape I’m in! Uncle Arthur (arthritis) came to visit and he won’t leave!

That’s why I’m so hopeful the Whole30 plan is the answer. By combatting the inflammation that causes the pain in my joints, I hope to be pain-free soon. That’s what I pray for. 

So back to the deep, spiritual question, “Why does God allow us to suffer?” 

I think God allows us to suffer for several reasons. Pain makes us long for deliverance. It draws us closer to Him. Oh, I know some people run the opposite way and seek relief in drugs, alcohol or toxic relationships. These only lead to more pain. For the fortunate ones who run to God instead of away from Him, they find the love and acceptance they crave in His arms. I know. He accepted me. 

A second reason we experience pain is so we can empathize with others. As painful as the loss of our twins was, I can honestly say now I’m grateful for the experience. In the past 24 years I have been able to counsel other young mothers who have lost a child. The only reason I could encourage them is because I understand their pain. 

And pain serves as a warning that something’s wrong. Go to the doctor. Seek advice. Get help!

It is in the valley that we look up. On the mountaintop, we think we can see all we need to see. Those in the valley long to get to the top. To freedom. To acceptance. To love. God’s arms are always open. Run to Him when you’re in pain. Run to Him and He will embrace you. He is waiting.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

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