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462. Why Must Life be so Painful?

There really is a purpose behind the pain we all run from.
I want to share what God has been teaching me regarding the nagging issue of pain in our lives. The problem with pain, of course, is that it hurts, and we don’t like things that hurt. We run from them, but they have a way of tracking us down. Pain is an unavoidable part of life, so we may as well learn to deal with it. The truth is that from God’s perspective, pain is actually a good thing. It is God’s warning sign that something is wrong. We can fix what is wrong, ignore it, or keep doing the same stupid thing in hopes that someday, for some inexplicable reason, the pain will stop.

Most of us have rested in the promise of Romans 8:28 more than once. We have trusted that God would cause all things to work out for good in our lives. Without mentioning the word, the verse is really all about pain. It’s the painful things that we want God to take care of, right? Deep down, we want God to take the pain away. From our perspective, that would be good. God, however, has a different view of pain. It’s one of His most effective tools for conforming us into the image of Christ. It’s also His most effective vehicle for displaying His love toward us, even the pain of our sin.

Only through ours sin can God fully express His love for us (in spite of our sinfulness). In other words, we can never appreciate the depth of His love for us if there were nothing terribly bad about us that He chose to overlook. Of course, He did much more that simply overlook our sin. He dealt with it and it involved punishment and pain. Through His mercy, He kept us from the punishment we deserved, pouring it all on Jesus on the cross. My point here is to show the necessity of pain for the ultimate expression of love. Because of this truth, God shows His love most powerfully through the pain He allows in our lives. We experience the fullness of His love as He carries us through our valleys. When we’re on the mountaintop, we appreciate His kindness, but we can’t truly appreciate His love.

Let’s look a little closer at the difference between kindness and love. A person can be kind and yet be full of contempt and sin. One can be kind and yet tolerant of all sorts of evil. Instead of operating through pain, kindness seeks to remove it. For example, we are rapidly approaching and era when euthanizing old people will be seen as the kind thing to do. Eliminating the “pain” of a sub-human life (old, handicapped, or disabled) will be considered an act of kindness. Love, on the other hand holds no contempt and is displayed through the suffering, not by removing it. Without pain, we live an illusion where God is absent. Pain, as much as we hate it, brings us closer to God.

It’s one thing to understand this in principle. It’s quite another to live it out. I write articles like this more for me than for you. If it helps you, great. That would be very gratifying, but I’m really trying to teach myself to walk the talk and it really helps to put into print the thoughts running through my head. From time to time, I’ll let you know how I’m doing. I’d love to hear from you.


On the other hand, you have different fingers.

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