Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
It’s a hard fact to come to grips with: we are living in an evil world and that means pain is involved. The Bible points out to us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV). Deceitful, wicked hearts produce evil deeds and followers of Jesus are not spared the spill-over of this evil. In fact, Christians should really be the least surprised when life turns upside down, knowing that our world is temporarily ruled by a god (that’s with a lower-case “g”) who does not have our best interests at heart. “Satan… is the god of this world,” says the Bible in 2 Corinthians 4:4.
How, then, do we live in a painful world? Despite our best efforts to avoid it and God’s promises to be with us in it, pain is a part of our existence. It is unavoidable, even in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Here are four truths to consider when contemplating the pain in your life:
- Pain is to be expected. “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,” Peter wrote to followers of Jesus, “as through something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Sometimes we are led to erroneously believe, that if we do this and don’t do that, we’re giving, serving, believing, then God practically owes us a good life. That’s not in the Bible. Elisabeth Elliot put it like this: “We live in a fallen world and therefore where there is wrong then Christians must suffer wrong, like everybody else.” “Don’t be surprised at your painful trials,” is what the Bible really says. If you think about it, the cross, the symbol of suffering, is the symbol of our faith.
- There is something for us to do in the midst of our pain. “So, then,” Peter continues, “those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19). What is the good, that we should continue to do? Romans 12:12 answers us with three simple directions: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
- Consider that God puts value into our pain as we endure in a Godly manner. Yes, the Bible says that our suffering really is going to result in something incredible. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” promises 2 Corinthians 4:17. This is a view of suffering that is unique to Christianity. Tim Keller explains, “Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.”
- We can be renewed each day in the midst of suffering. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat it; our bodies are wearing out and wearing away! But the Christian possesses an inner life that is lived under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the Source of the “times of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord.”
May that refreshment of the Holy Spirit and the deep love of God be real to you today.
Reference Reading: 2 Corinthains 4:1-18
 “There's No Coming to Life without Pain: An Interview with Elisabeth Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot.” Ligonier Ministries. Accessed April 16, 2020. https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/theres-no-coming-life-without-pain-interview-elisabeth-elliot/.
 “20 Quotes from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.” Desiring God, April 16, 2020. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/20-quotes-from-walking-with-god-through-pain-and-suffering.