Dear Ministry Partner,
Pain is common, from a simple sunburn
to continual pain from a debilitating disease. Then there is emotional
pain, which is not only as real as physical pain but is more prone
to cause people to alter their lives to avoid it. What is the
purpose of pain in all its different forms? Why
does God allow it? Everyone wants to avoid pain, so what should
we do about it?
created everything. This includes the ability to feel and experience
pain or hurt. When He was finished with creation, "God
saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good."
1:31). The ability to feel or sense pain is actually a very
beneficial thing. There is a direct parallel with the gauges or
warning lights that are built into the dashboard of a typical
car. If you ever had a car engine overheat from a loss of coolant,
the temperature gauge or warning light was designed to save your
engine from destruction. Or if you had an alternator or generator
belt break off the pulleys, the electrical charging gauge or warning
light was designed to let you know the car would only go a short
distance further before the battery would be dead and the car
would stop running. We would feel cheated and angry if the manufacturer
had not built these warning mechanisms into our vehicles.
In my teenage years, I worked at
an auto parts store and I personally knew people who disregarded
the gauges or warning lights on their cars. Major expenses were
sometimes incurred, and certainly a significant amount of time
and effort were required to repair the damage. In my own life,
I have had times when a warning was displayed on my car's dashboard,
and I quickly pulled over and shut off the engine. Sometimes I
had to walk a short distance for water to add to the radiator
so I could drive back home, but I have been spared a number of
times from a financial disaster by heeding the warning light.
In our physical bodies, God has designed
pain to reveal to us something we are doing wrong. There is "quick
pain" — the kind you feel if you are cutting yourself
or getting burned. This is designed to be a sharp pain to stop
us immediately. God even designed a scarring process for our skin
to remind us of our mistake so we would not repeat it. It is interesting
that God has designed our skin so that most scars fade with the
passage of years, hopefully because we have learned our lesson
and don't need the visible reminder.
Then there is "gradual pain"
that is not as sharp, such as the kind you feel from cold in the
winter. This kind of pain is designed to warn you that you can
continue a short time in this condition, but it is not good for
you and could lead to harm or death. Children often complain about
having to put on a coat or hat in the winter because they don't
grasp the "warning" from the feel of cold, but the more
knowing parent should do what is best for the child's health.
Last, there is a "dull pain"
that is a more subtle indication of a long-term problem or neglect
that is getting worse. Often, this is from many years of poor
nutrition or lack of exercise, or sometimes from a serious medical
or dental condition or an injury that is getting worse —
requiring attention and medical intervention. God has no problem
with us taking our body to a good "mechanic" —
a knowledgeable and honest medical expert who may be able to help.
Since we live in a fallen world,
the perfect environment of paradise is lost, and most things do
not function anywhere near the perfection which God originally
designed. This is not God's fault, but rather man's fault! The
fact that we experience more "pain" than Adam and Eve
is not a reason to blame God, yet most of unsaved mankind does.
It is a major reason that many people do not go to church in America,
or even believe in God. They say, "How
can there be a God if there is so much pain and suffering on the
earth?" Of course, that question ignores the existence
plus the consequences of mankind's ongoing sins and fallen free
If God knew that pain would increase
fell, what is the purpose of so much pain? Outside of the logical
"self-preservation" purpose of pain already discussed
above, God allows pain to exist for the purpose of driving people
to God for salvation. If people could live any old way they wanted
and experience no pain, God would be effectively "encouraging
sin". If there was no pain from sinful or disobedient choices,
the quantity of sin committed by mankind would rocket off the
charts! Pain in its many forms inhibits sin in mankind.
One kind of pain unbelievers feel
is "spiritual pain". This is the most subtle but continual
pain that mankind feels. This is a dull, continual pain that unsaved
people feel on the inside. It is similar to the "pain"
you and I felt when we were small children and found ourselves
"lost" from our parents. There was a realization that
we were lost and on our own, and we knew it was not supposed to
be that way. Some people call this feeling an emptiness or vacuum
on the inside. All unsaved people have this pain programmed into
their spirit to try to encourage them to "find their Father"
and His salvation. This again is a merciful thing created by God
for the eternal good of all human beings. Also, we believers can
feel pain in our spirits concerning things that grieve God —
things that would break His heart. This is called "identification
with God" and is actually sensing what the Holy
Spirit is feeling within our spirit.
Perhaps the most common pain in America
is "emotional" pain. This can be from financial problems,
relationship problems, etc., and the pain is actually a symptom
of deeper problems in our lives. Half of all married Americans
have experienced pain from a divorce (rejection), and we should
learn from the experience. It is not God's fault. First of all,
many totally innocent people have been hurt by the free will of
their spouse. Sometimes there was a faulty process for selecting
a mate, or perhaps behavior problems may have contributed to the
divorce which can be changed the next time. Often there was a
lack of Godly spiritual activities which opened the door for the
devil to steal, kill, and destroy (Eph.
10:10). There is no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom.
8:1), because we have all sinned and we have all not totally
followed God's "instructions" for a successful life
3:23). But if we have contributed to the cause of our pain,
repentance is often needed to stop the pain we feel. On the other
hand, if we are innocent of wrong doing, then we often need to
forgive the guilty party. This can often free us from various
forms of pain and suffering (Matt.
There are significant problems when
people do not deal with physical, emotional, or spiritual pain
in correct ways. Many people try to numb or bury the feeling of
pain through alcohol or drugs. This doesn't solve anything and
just creates more pain from the negative consequences. Some people
use work, busy-ness, or pre-occupation with hobbies to cover up
or distract them from pain. We are supposed to be more thoughtful
The correct response to pain is to
first "go to the Heavenly Doctor" — God. Our Heavenly
is a healer, psychologist, counselor, repair technician, banker,
lawyer, and minister all rolled into one Person. He will always
have a plan, a process, a strategy — a way to deal correctly
with whatever issue that we find causing pain in life. But will
He find the faith in us to work the plan? Sometimes we experience
an "instant healing" from the source of pain, but more
often God has a plan or process to walk us out of pain that often
requires faith. We have usually created a pain in our lives over
a substantial length of time, but we all prefer instant remedies!
It is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises
of God (Heb.
6:12). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb.
11:6). And if all of God's solutions were instant, it would
again encourage people to sin — because all we would have
to do is "say the magic words" each time sin's consequences
occurred — and 'poof' they would be gone!
The answer to every problem in life
is to go to God — for His ways, His Word, His presence,
His comfort, His guidance, His salvation. In our instant 'microwave'
society, many people feel that God doesn't work fast enough. "But
wait on the LORD, and He shall save thee."
20:22). "Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
7:7). Freedom from pain is frequently possible in this life,
and it awaits every believer for eternity. "And
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be
no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more
Helping deliver people from pain,
Dale & Judi Leander