We know, in fact, that God works all things together for good to those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28 (NTE)]
Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. [C.S. Lewis]
When we’re hurting, it’s not easy to reconcile how an entirely good, ever-loving, and all-powerful God can allow pain and suffering. The simplest answer is that, since He gave us free will, we can’t hold Him responsible for what mankind has done with that free will. We can’t blame God for global warming, tooth aches, concentration camps, genocide, cancer, red tide, wars, tornadoes, torn ligaments, or rising COVID cases. We alone are the ones responsible for mankind’s poor choices and the disease, death, destruction, and suffering that have accompanied us since we were evicted from Eden.
Pain tells us something is wrong and often begins with little nudges, ones that are easy to disregard. However, when the pain gets bad enough, it can’t be ignored. C.S. Lewis calls pain God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I don’t know how well the world is listening to Him but I know that my recent issues with neck and back pain got my attention!
While discerning the physical reason for my pain was relatively easy, I suspected there was more to it than arthritis, herniated discs, bone spurs, ergonomics, posture, and too many hours at the computer. God doesn’t haphazardly distribute pain and trials. If pain is God’s way of getting our attention, we need to understand what God is telling us with it—to discern God’s purpose so that we can get on board with His plan.
A little soul searching and prayer told me that it wasn’t just my body that had gotten out of alignment—so had my priorities. Like the busy Martha, I’d lost sight of Jesus while serving Him. I’d been busy asking what God wanted me to do for Him when I should have been asking what He wanted to do with me. My pain knocked me to my knees in such a way that I had to surrender to God, abide in Him, and trade self-sufficiency for God-dependence.
Pain and adversity in our fallen world can’t be avoided. Perfect health isn’t promised any more than are perfect marriages, spouses, children, weather, or jobs. When God gets out His megaphone, we must step back to get some perspective so that, instead of focusing on what is happening to us, we can discern how God is using the circumstances for us.
“If this is the worst thing that’s happened to me, I’m way ahead of the game,” said a friend who is enduring her own share of pain. That sort of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? One glance at the people on my prayer list tells me it could be far worse! In the meantime, may we always remember that it is God’s presence in our painful circumstances that gives them meaning.
God has no pleasure in afflicting us, but He will not keep back even the most painful chastisement if He can but thereby guide His beloved child to come home and abide in the beloved Son. [Andrew Murray]