On a recent Christian Q&A podcast, a question came from a woman who said she had been praying for God to give her His heart, and ever since she has gone through a very difficult time of pain and suffering. It was clear she was confused and hurt. The raw emotion in her voice left me heartbroken, while the question itself is something I’ve heard countless times before in different forms.
Unfortunately, the answers given to her weren’t helpful. They centered on why evil exists, with a focus on the free will argument, which posits that evil occurs because God gave us free will to choose both good and bad. Whether that’s true or not, it misses the mark of answering the woman’s real question of why she was in the midst of a hard trial.
It’s a good bet that if you’ve been a Christian for some time, you’ve had similar heartache that’s caused you to cry out to God for answers. I believe the Bible gives us understanding in this area, even if the explanations are sometimes difficult to accept.
The Gift That Nobody Wants
When I was going through very difficult times, I searched for answers, came up empty, and was left both exasperated and depressed. That is, until I came upon an essay in a book (“That Incredible Christian”) written by A.W. Tozer entitled “The Ministry of the Night”, which begins with this sobering statement:
If God has singled you out to be a special object of His grace you may expect Him to honor you with stricter discipline and greater suffering than less favored ones are called upon to endure.
Go ahead and read it again. Doesn’t get any easier the second time around does it? What Tozer says is similar to what Phil Yancey wrote years later about pain being “the gift that nobody wants”.
Tough as it was to read, it was the first piece of contrarian truth I’d be given that gave me hope that answers – even if they were hard ones – were available. Was Tozer right and did the Bible back up his claim?
Long story short, the answer is yes.
Do your research and you’ll find there is not one person highlighted in Scripture and used mightily by God (e.g. Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, David, etc.) that didn’t go through painful trials. This fact runs completely contrary to the statements made by prosperity preachers who see hardships as something foreign to people blessed by God.
Viewing Pain and Suffering through a Biblical Lens
While a lot of people do their best to get God off the hook for pain and sufferings, the Bible doesn’t seem to follow suit. Scripture affirms God’s sovereignty over everything including both of them: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Is. 46:9–10).
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Robin Schumacher