The Problem of Pain

The Problem of Pain

Pain is inevitable. We all feel it. Physical pain can be crippling. Emotional pain can be paralyzing. Pain can come in a thousand forms. Everyone has pain on some level. A failed marriage. A prodigal child. A failing business. A dying dream. Pain is a common denominator. Because we live in a fallen world and because we are sinners, pain is a reality.

Don’t let some happy-go-lucky philosopher tell you differently. Don’t let some prosperity preacher convince you to ignore the reality of pain. If pain is not a reality, then God owes Job and many others an apology. If pain is just something that existed before the health and wealth gospel came around, then God owes the first-century martyrs an explanation.

Aristotle noted that we can’t learn without pain. Pain is a reality check. It forces us to stop and think and ask questions. Many of the questions will never be answered, but God is gracious enough to allow us to ask. Pain will make you bitter or better. It can suck you through a keyhole or cause you to climb Mount Perspective to get a better view. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Let’s be careful not to fall into the “my pain is worse than your pain” trap. You can’t compare pain. Each painful incident in life carries its own weight. The danger is when we let pain dominate our every thought, when every waking moment is focused on the pain. We can live with pain, but we can’t live abundantly if the pain is more real to us than the God of all comfort and the Father of Mercies.

So what’s sucking the life out of you right now? What has you restless at night? What causes you to weep, mourn, fear or run? And what do you do if you know it’s not going away any time soon? Might I suggest faith, hope and love? Have faith in God that He sees, knows and cares. Hope for a better tomorrow. If there can’t be a better tomorrow, then know that our hope is not tied to our circumstances but to our Christ. He is the hope of the world and of our daily lives. Love the Lord with all your heart. Love other people who are going through painful circumstances.

The painful reality is that the pain may not go away. The greater reality is, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus was a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief. He knows. He cares. He loves you.

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Michael has served as Senior Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church since 1989. The church has 3,000 members and has averaged one hundred baptisms each year. Thousands have joined the church from Albany and 29 surrounding communities. The church has changed from a neighborhood church to a regional, multi-ethnic congregation with members from eleven nations. Sherwood has three campuses covering 130-plus acres—the main church campus, the lower school campus and the upper school campus.