By Deana Mitchell, Director of Women’s & Prayer Ministries
Life holds some big hurts! We are faced with the fact that evil exists in our world. It exists in contradiction to the Christian belief that God is all powerful, all knowing, and perfectly good. The problem with evil in
general is its very existence, and atheists fall to this contradiction as an excuse to deny that there is a God. It provides them with a basis for unbelief. The “problem of pain” specifically is the subject that C. S. Lewis addresses in his book by that name. “Pain” is synonymous with hurt, suffering, grief, loss, evil, and wounds. Lewis reminds us that we are born into pain, our life experiences produce pain, we often are agents that inflict pain, and quite frequently we die in pain. Ouch–that makes the world sound pretty awful!
The reality is that pain is an ongoing, lifetime problem for all people; all creatures and even “all creation” groans awaiting the coming of Heaven upon the earth. If we personally are not currently suffering pain, we are certain to be hurting for others who are. It strikes at our physical being, our emotional well-being, our mental state, and our spiritual health. We can
medicate it, ignore it, combat it, cause it, deny it, hide it, tolerate it, and consent to it…but we cannot rid our world of it. But there is something wonderful about life, in spite of the presence of pain, or we wouldn’t cling to it so passionately. And there’s more to learn about pain—Jesus equips us to conquer it!
We are not asked to “thank” God for pain. The Bible simply tells us that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances,” and pain certainly affords us the opportunity to pray and seek after Him. C. S. Lewis implied that pain would exist whether there was a god or not; and he said pain does not become a real problem except in the light of Christianity. It is the knowing that with our God it is possible for him to remove pain from our life that we run upon the issue of doubt– wondering why He allows it. Yet, God Himself endured pain and suffering on the cross. He has shown us that there is a “next step” in this process of life! There is a transformation that takes place as we put our faith in God. There is ultimately a resurrection! Freedom– from all pain, suffering, evil and sin. Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.” When we join Him in prayer, He will guide us through the pain, even if He doesn’t remove it.
In our everyday existence, we come to know pain and pleasure, sadness and joy, sickness and health, youth and aging, loneliness and community. Childbirth yields intense pain for a period of time, but also an ongoing elation, that thanks to this same God who allows pain, this new life will bring great joy and last for all eternity. Pain has a shelf-life. Joy is eternal. As women, we need to seek for joy together— pray together–especially in the painful places!
Pain is the offspring of a good creation, so pain is not incompatible with the goodness of God. It is a necessary evil that we must endure as we become new creations. We are healed through transformation as we seize the joy of becoming fully the image of God…and sometimes the healing process hurts.
“Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” – Psalm 86:4
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