Sunday, December 19, 2010

And the Answer is . . .I think.

I was recently asked why God lets us experience pain. It is a legitimate question, after all he says he loves us, and he claims to be all powerful, so if any of that is true shouldn’t he just zap us with pure bliss? Isn’t that what a loving all powerful God would do?

Maybe, if it was all about him, but that sort of negates the whole love thing, in my opinion. Because isn’t love selfless? I know a few of you just felt your heads explode, so after you reassemble the pieces let’s begin again, shall we?

The worst thing in my world is seeing the ones I love in pain. It drives me crazy.

If my kids are sick or Ty has a headache I find myself wishing that I could just be the one who was suffering. It is so much easier to deal with than watching them. It is an expression of my love for them, and I think God feels the same way. It would be so much easier on him if he took it all, so much less painful.

But I know that sometimes the experience of pain is what we need to grow up. We need to know that remaining in our present situation is going to cost us, and we need a chance to make an informed decision. So I find myself sitting back, letting my children make choices that will result in hopefully minor and temporary injury. I do it because I love them.

I do it because I am praying there will come a day when they are wise enough to make choices without having to consult me. That they will be able to look at situation and know what they need to do without being told, and let’s face it, we don’t learn these things if someone is always erasing the consequence of our choices. And I think if I can figure this one out, God was already aware.

Now, I don’t think this explains all pain. Some of it is the result of outside forces that we can’t control and our actions have no bearing on them, but so often pain is the way we learn.

When I read my Bible, I see a God who is all about us growing, maturing, and learning how to be more like his son. I see a God who is not content to let us remain as we are. Yes, he accepts me just as I am, but then he desires more for me and from me.

So often we equate pain with something evil, but strictly speaking it’s not. Pain tells us sitting on the hot stove is a bad idea, that our knees weren’t designed to bend at that particular angle, or that putting a staple through our thumb isn’t the smartest thing we could do. It tells us when we need to move in out of the cold, step into the shade, or find shelter from a storm. Pain keeps us safe if we are willing to listen to it, it minimizes the damages the harsh world would inflict on us when we are unaware.

Spiritually, pain warns of dangerous relationships, bad influences, and the hazards of complacency. It makes us move when we would be content to be still, it draws us closer to God, and awakens our senses to new possibilities. It hurts so that we have incentive to act, even when we don’t want to.

And the truth is the remedy for pain is often more pain. How many of us will endure an aching tooth if we don’t have to face the dentist? We know that a visit to him is going to mean needles and screeching tools. So we put it off, unwilling to face the pain needed for our healing. It is only after the side of our head swells up and Ambusol just doesn’t cut it anymore that we are willing to face the music.

Most of us just aren’t any better when it comes to our spiritual hygiene. We will endure a little ache as long as possible, if it means we can avoid facing God. So he lets the pain grow until we become disfigured with it and no amount of suppressants can touch it. And even then most of us would rather groan in our misery than take the proper steps to be whole. We cringe in fear of what it may cost us to find relief, until it simply becomes too unbearable.

So why do we experience pain? God loves us. I know it seems like the wrong answer, but ultimately it is the only answer to all our questions. God loves us and he will do anything, endure anything, to bring us closer to him including agonizing with us as we learn to listen to his voice.

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