The Problem of Pain

April 17, 2013
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A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.  Psalm 34:19


In many ways the problem of suffering is more difficult for Christians to deal with than for non-Christians.  Why?  The Christian believes that nothing happens apart from the will of God, that He is sovereign and all-powerful, and– bottom line–that God is good, loving and kind.  The non-Christian dismisses the intervention of God in the affairs of our world or, at best, considers Him to be only a disinterested spectator, either too weak or too remote to do much about the problem of pain.

When suffering strikes, the Christian is apt to think, “God, why me?  I’m your child.  Don’t I deserve better than this?”  We often forget that history tells us some of God’s choicest servants suffered, from Old Testament days to the present, and that God hasn’t really made a deal which says, “OK, if you follow me, I’ll deliver you from the pain which inflicts people and puts them flat on their back in bed.”

The problem of pain is further compounded by a mind-set which is as old as the book of Job, which goes, “Prosperity and blessing mark the godly, and poverty and suffering are a curse upon the wicked!”  If you have grown up with that teaching, you feel guilty and abandoned by God when the doctor says, “You have an inoperable cancer,” or you get word that your son was involved in a serious automobile accident, or your husband has been laid off work.

There is a truth that needs to be a foundation stone of your life, an anchor to your soul, and a compass for your feet.  Simply put it is that suffering is not a curse and prosperity is not necessarily a reward bestowed upon the righteous.  An equally important truth that flows from the bedrock of God’s nature and character is that He is not indifferent to your pain and does not ignore your plea for help when you suffer.

So how do we know this?  Two ways:  First, the solid testimony of Scripture which has comforted God’s people in times of trial for two thousand years tells me that God is not indifferent to my pain and suffering.  Make a note of these references, which are but a small sample of the many statements found in the Bible.  Start with the book of Psalms, the hymnbook of ancient Israel.  Read Psalm 27, Psalm 34, and Psalm 55.  “In the time of trouble, He will hide me,” said David.      “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” he adds in Psalm 34:19.

Isaiah 53 talks about the terrible suffering of the Messiah, which was a picture of Jesus’ suffering.  The writer of Hebrews uses that to express the tenderness and compassion Jesus has for those who suffer because He’s been there and experienced it (See Hebrews 4:15,16).  Read Hebrews 11 and then Peter’s letters, which he devoted to the undeserved suffering of God’s children.  Pointedly he says, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).  Could it be clearer?

There is a second way that you can know that God is not indifferent to your pain and suffering.  Listen to the testimonies of some of God’s choicest servants who have been there.  Read C. S. Lewis; Phil Yancey; Joni Eareckson Tada, whose remarkable life is a picture of grace painted on the backdrop of pain.  Learn about Fanny Crosby, the blind songwriter who gave us more than 9000 beautiful songs.  Find out about John Bunyan, who spent seven long years in a Bedford jail, and read Pilgrim’s Progress, the book that flowed from his experience, which has helped us all identify with the struggles towards the Celestial City.  You will learn that God is not indifferent to your need and that His Son will walk with you through your pain.

Resource reading: 1 Peter 2.


Bible References

  • Psalm 34:19
  • Hebrews 4:15 - 16
  • 1 Peter 2:21