Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Necessary Pain

There is nothing worse than seeing your son in pain, and knowing that you deliberately caused it. And my ten-year-old son, Derek, was definitely in pain.

We had just left the orthodontist, who once again tightened Derek’s already snug braces. I knew from experience that he would eat nothing but soft foods for the next few days. His mouth would ache too much to chew.

“Mom,” he moaned. “It hurts.”

“I know, sweetie.” I responded. “But think how gorgeous you will be when this is all done.”

braces 2

Simple words, but they gave me new insight into why God allows suffering in His children.

We didn’t put braces on Derek to hurt him. Quite the contrary. Derek had a pretty major overbite, and correcting that now would save him a lot of dental problems later on. We chose to let him suffer a bit in the short term so he would not suffer even more in the long term. Our motives were good, but it didn’t make the process any less painful.

It cost us something too: money, time, and a hurting son. But it was worth it, because though it was hard to watch we knew it was what was best for him in the long run. The pain had a purpose.

We did it because we love him.

So it is with the Lord.

Sometimes He allows us, His children, to suffer. We hurt, and we don’t know why He permits it. He is strong, and He is good, yet He allows our pain when He could easily dismiss it. But that’s the short-term perspective.

His motivation isn’t a sadistic pleasure in seeing our hurt. As our Father, I’m sure He aches for us. He was once a man, subject to the same pain and hurts as we. He was despised, rejected, and reviled. Yes, He understands what we go through. But He still allows suffering, because it changes us. In some profound, fundamental way, we cannot suffer and emerge unchanged. We simply are not the same as before. We have more compassion for those who suffer. We have more patience with those who hurt. We have more understanding that trials are hard, but that doesn’t make them all bad.

I know that the pain that braces cause is not comparable to other, deeper wounds, but the principle is the same.

God knows pain hurts, but He wants it to change us. With Him, the pain has a purpose. Think how gorgeous we will be when He is done with us!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory( in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11

Further reflection:

1. Describe a time when there was pain in your life.

2. How did it affect your relationship with Jesus?

3. Pick one of the above Bible passages about suffering, and commit it to memory.

Father, life is painful sometimes. I know You see it. I know You suffered far more than I ever will so that I can come to You when I hurt. Please, let me not waste it. May You redeem it, so that it changes me. Because I am most beautiful when I become more like You.

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