Love & Pain

When one considers the longest book within the best-known book in theworld is the Book of Psalms, and that the largest grouping of psalmtypes are laments, one might ask “Why”?”Why” is indeed the question. It arises often when facing sickness,natural, air and road disasters, in times of war and other violentactivity and in a myriad of various tragedies common to humanexperience.For myself and millions of Christ-followers the shortest of answer tothis is “only God truly and fully understands the answer” in each andevery case.Easy to say, I admit. Not so easy in the midst of the experience.It is equally easy for some to say putting it all on God is weak, evena total cop-out, that “a loving God wouldn’t even permit such things”.Though I fully admit I don”t have all the answers I have considered agreat many that those wiser than I have offered to my personalsatisfaction.But a thorough discourse on “the problem of pain” isn’t the scope ofthis article.The deeper truth believers cling to and find hope and a measure ofpeace in is that in suffering we are -never- alone.Jesus has promised to never leave or forsake us. He says “I am withyou always, even to the end of the world.”I get the issue- all of us want whatever the hurt is, to stop! We wantquick or at least quicker closure to suffering. One would have anentirely different set of real and likely deep problems if she or hedidn’t feel that way about pain.Truth: all people are visited by pain. It is an often inescapable fact of life.Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. Consider Jesus onthe cross for a moment.Now. a question- does Christ on the cross look like the absence of pain?The crucified Jesus doesn’t look anything like a picture of life.Rather, this was an event overloaded with anguish, intense suffering,pain and in that case, death.He Himself told us “greater love has no one than this: that they laytheir life down for a friend.”If God is a loving God, why? Why did Hechoose/allow/however-you-wish-to-frame-it His only perfect, sinlessSon to suffer so?For salvation. To reveal The ultimate act offering mercy, forgivenessand the chance for healing to human beings. For our benefit. This wasthe most pristine example of love ever witnessed among humankind.In the recent past I have read (and stated myself) that ProtestantChristians -including a great many evangelicals, Charismatics andothers- have pretty much ceased to offer an actual Bible-basedtheology for suffering.This is slowly beginning to change but it is an area that needs morework in my opinion.Obvious things get left out of our conception of love, least of whichis that all true love involves pain. Read that line again please!Consider the love that bears and gives birth to children. It includesthe pain of childbirth as well as childhood diseases, bruises, bloodynoses, perhaps broken bones and sometimes far worse.True love for one’s parents and/or grandparents often includes illnessand regardless, facing the sometimes ravages of age-connected pain,perhaps the often difficult relocation from their home to a senior’scare facility, and of course eventual separation due to death. None ofthis is simple, easy or painless when we truly love our family orother relatives.Some of the same issues surface within marriage or longtime partner orfriendship.Pain and pain-sharing is inextricable from a genuine, continuing love.You’ll not hear me say I enjoy it, only that I’ve learned to face andat least sometimes whether it by God being my “very present help introuble.”It’s of course, a matter of faith, hope and love. Let me be clear onthese points…Faith is not faith in faith, faith in feelings, faith in what peoplesay, faith that your will is going to decide the outcome. By faith,I mean faith in the Person of God- Father, Son, Spirit, and His Word(The Bible).When I quote “faith, hope and love” I mean only that true hope thatwe have in Jesus and His Word, nothing more or less. We may hope forthat which will never be. The hope Paul writes about at the end of1 Corinthians 13 is fully focused on Jesus Christ, not on human”events” as such.The love I refer to here is only agape love, that is, God’s lovegiven us in Jesus Christ. Is it not apparent that God’s view oflove is very different from our own? We see that in the sufferingChrist on the cross. Such love is core to our own ability to lovethe Lord, love our spouse and family, love our friends, neighborsand certainly so regarding our enemies!Note Paul tells us “faith, hope and love REMAIN”. That word inthe Greek means “abides, continues on”. This faith, hope and loveis eternal, doesn’t conform to anything other than God’s Own nature.This is the very nature God the Holy Spirit works in us day by day,from glory to glory, or as Phillips renders Paul’s words,”knocked down but not knocked out”! I like that… though I don’talways enjoy the experience.Because GOD is eternally faithful, because He inspires (via manymethods, experiences, people He brings through our life, etc.) hope,because HE IS LOVE and loves us faithfully no matter thecircumstances, we are in at least partial possession of a strengththat can only come from our relationship with Him and Hispeople. Away from or outside of those, we’re sunk and despairregularly wins the day if not month, year and lifetime!Believe the truth: if you’ve rarely truly loved with God’s love,you’ve rarely loved at all. His love -in and through us- includessuffering and pain. It’s simply a part of the life we live.Will we choose to live in faith, hope and love by God’s graceand “present” help? Will we “curse God and die”? It is in eachcase, our choice.As many a wise teacher has said, God does not always deliver usFROM the storm… but He has promised to be WITH US THROUGH it.This is the wonder and beauty even in tragedy: when our houseis built on rock, “when” (not “if”) the storm rages and theflood comes, our house will stand.

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3 thoughts on “Love & Pain

  1. Great post. I’m thankful to see you blogging, Glenn. Your thoughts have challenged me since the mid-70’s, and continue to do so. Thanks, brother.

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