Does God want you to suffer?
Pardon the lurid title. I know it sounds like a mean thing to say.
Especially since one of the most common arguments I hear against God is pain. Why would a good God allow pain?
The implication is pain is evil. I am convinced that not ALL pain produces evil.
You find often in the Bible, especially in the Psalms, this teeter-totter of realizing how painful life is and how satisfying and good God is. Why is this? The flow of much poetic scripture goes like this: Life is awful, everything is empty and wasting away. God is so satisfying, like drinking from a deep, pure mountain stream.
This teeter-totter of awareness is really important. Not just the awareness, but the rhythms of how the Biblical authors become aware.
Imagine with me…
We live life surrounded by a cloak, a veil, of the temporal. We place our security in it. From our health to our money. We place our joy in it, from influence and reputation to temporary quick pleasures. Inevitably these things don’t last. Our bodies fail, the striving for positive influence and reputation turns to regret, things can’t take care of us, and quick pleasures don’t last. When these temporary veils tear apart and let us down it does two things. It shows us how frail this life really is and also let’s us see through the transient to the imperishable. If you keep your gaze on what is torn, your health, your reputation, your things, your failed pleasures, your heart will be left in perpetual devastation. You’re looking at the tear. The flow of scriptures asks the reader to look THROUGH the tear. If you discipline yourself to look through it, through the very holes that are torn, you will begin to see what is everlasting.
Some of the most whole people I have met have a shredded temporary life fabric. Their wholeness doesn’t come from what is passing away, it comes from setting their hearts on what isn’t. For them temporary pain is the window through which they embrace what is everlasting. This type of pain became the very vehicle that brought them face to face with “… an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven…” for them (1 Peter 1:4).
Oh, the depth of joy that comes when people see this! This is how the martyrs of the past in prison awaiting execution had more joy than the “free” soldiers that stood guard over them. In the end an untorn veil makes you more frail than a torn one.
Oh that God would allow you to set your heart on what can truly satisfy! Maybe saying God wants you to suffer is more like implying that a good surgeon’s greatest joy is the first incision and not the removal of the cancerous tumor or that the end objective of stitches is the needle piercing the skin. There is a much deeper healing and much healthier you that comes from shifting your gaze.
The best is yet to come.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” -C.S. Lewis
*blog photo provided by pexels
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