Pain and Suffering
Maintaining a Biblical Balance in the Spiritual Battles of Life
Some people will do anything to avoid pain. It is most important for Christians to know how to respond during suffering, for hardships will surely come (James 1:2-3). Sin loses the power to defeat you in your suffering if you focus on Christ and what He wants you to do.
God wants to make you mature and complete, not to keep you from all pain.
Consider the following:
PAIN IS USED TO CONFORM US TO CHRIST
Paul wrote in Phil. 3:10, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings… ” Jesus’ head was crowned with thorns, His body was covered with stripes. Being part of His body may result in our suffering with Him. Suffering is a tool that God uses to conform us to the image of Christ.
PAIN CAN BE THE CURE FOR SPIRITUAL DISEASE
As fire separates the dross from the gold, so pain removes spiritual disease. David wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now I keep thy word.” Ps. 119:67. Ecc. 7:3 says, “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”
PAIN DEVELOPS OUR MINISTRIES
The God who comforts us has designed that we “may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Cor 1:4. God tends to break what He uses. Like a wild colt, we are of little use until we are broken. Jeremiah wrote, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Lam. 3:27.
PAIN MAGNIFIES GOD
Paul wrote to the Philippians, “.. it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Phil. 1:29. In the context of suffering, Paul said, “… Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” Phil. 1:20b. Why does Christ need to be enlarged? Because we live in a world where Christ is thought to be small. Our response to suffering enlarges Christ.
One doctor friend accepted Christ as he watched a dying patient glorify God.
PAIN CAN BE A MEANS OF BLESSING
The Lord uses pain as part of the process of sanctification and we are brought closer to God. The prodigal son was starving in the hog pen when he decided to return home (Luke 15:11-32). When the dove could not find rest, she flew back to the ark (Genesis 8:8-9). Many people come to salvation in time of pain and distress. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says: “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting…”
PAIN TEACHES, HELPING US TO KNOW OURSELVES
Facing pain and perhaps death, our real values show up clearly, and sinful pleasures become less important. We come to understand the serious nature of sin as that sickbed teaches us far more than a sermon. The suffering brings out things in us that we did not know was there, such as a lack of faith, character flaws, and weaknesses that did not come to light during the “good” times.
PAIN WILL OFTEN SILENCE EVIL PERSONS
The wicked at times accuse Christians of serving the Lord because of His blessings or for other selfish reasons. We should submit to our employers, whether they are considerate or harsh. The suffering of the Christian often seals their lips and perhaps will allow us to win them to Christ by our good example. When a believer suffers, yet like Job of old, holds fast to his integrity, the world takes notice.
PAIN OPENS THE DOOR To GOD’S COMFORT
In John 16:20, Jesus said, “…your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Paul sang in prison. Someone has wisely said, “at the end of God’s rod one finds honey.” “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matt 5:4.
PAIN IS ON THE PATH TO ETERNAL GLORY
Paul understood this when he wrote, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2Corinthians 4:17. Just as the plow prepares the earth to bring forth a crop, so pain and suffering is often used to prepare us for eternal glory. Everyone who knows the Lord will one day share in Christ’s glory. He promises, “But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.” Lam. 3:32.
Suffering may come as the direct result of your sin, perhaps because of foolishness, and (sometimes more and sometimes less) as a result of living in this fallen world. Jesus Christ never sinned, yet he suffered so that you and I could be set free. His suffering was a part of God’s plan. As you follow Christ’s example and live for others, you too may suffer. Face it as Jesus did, submissively obeying your Lord, living with patience, calmness, and confidence that He is in absolute control of your future.