Often, the hard issues we face are due to circumstances beyond our control. Case in point: flooding disasters in Florida, across the North-central U.S., and California ...
- South Florida was “under siege and under water,” news outlets proclaimed. A recent storm dumped as much as 25 inches of rain over some coastal areas. Homes and businesses were destroyed, and roads were forced to shut down. A State of Emergency was declared.
- The North-central U.S. experienced major flooding as summer-like temperatures led to a rapid thaw following heavy snowfall this winter, turning streets, neighborhoods, and roads into flowing rivers.
- After years of drought-like conditions, torrents of rain have drowned thousands of acres of farmland in California’s Central Valley. Crops and livelihoods were destroyed.
These tragedies, pulled from the headlines, affect many people and communities at once. But if I were to sit down across from you and ask, “What difficult circumstances are you facing today?” —I have no doubt you’d have personal pains, family troubles, financial struggles, and more to share.
No hardship is without purpose in the life of a believer! And God promises to use all things for our good and His glory.
• Why does God allow pain?
• How can I remain calm in the midst of chaos?
• If I’m following God, shouldn’t I be exempt from hardships?
• Can anything good come from my pain?
• God allows no pain without purpose.
Since we have a limited number of days on earth, spending so many of them in pain, sickness, suffering, temptation, and trouble seems a shame. With so few days allotted to us, why are some spent in hospitals and foxholes? Like the weather, some of our days are fair; others are fairly awful. Why, we wonder, is life so hard?
I don’t have all the answers, but God understands everything better than we do. He resides in His holy temple and reigns on His heavenly throne. He took all the suffering in the world, boiled it down to its evil essence, shaped it into the form of a cross, and sent Jesus to pay the necessary price. It took six hours. But in the shadow of Calvary, an eternal answer arrived to the problem of pain:
Because Jesus faced adversity, He defeated the Adversary. Because He defeated the Adversary, we can trust Him with adversities in life. His grace is sufficient.
Why does God allow pain?
The Word of God is brutally honest about the reality of life. Sometimes in the process of growing up in God’s family, we feel the sting of adversity. It doesn’t feel good, and we do not desire it. But God has a purpose in our pain that we may not see or understand in the present. And we can trust that our pain is no secret to Him. Everything that happens to us will become a platform for the glory of Him, who “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).
Whether Jesus calms the storm around you or calms you in the midst of the storm, you’re safe wherever He is.
God uses problems in our lives to drive us to Him as our only hope, our only source of dependence. Difficulty is often one phase of divine discipline (meaning training toward maturity). It is unfortunate that many teachers today say that if we love God and we walk with Him, we will never be sick, we will never suffer, we will never know poverty or financial hardship. This doctrine is not from the Word of God! Jesus, Himself said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
How can I remain calm in the midst of chaos?
It’s easy to forget that first-century Israel—especially Jerusalem—was not a particularly peaceful place to live. The iron boot of Rome moved swiftly to keep its version of the peace, and there was a constant undercurrent of religious tensions. Throw in poverty, famine, diseases, and wars—there was plenty to keep the heart unsettled (as there is in our day). So it comes as no surprise to read what Jesus said to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Jesus knew exactly what was coming in His life, His disciples’ lives, and He knows what is coming in ours. He wants us to find our peace in Him.
Jesus spoke those words on the night of His betrayal and arrest. In addition to everyday disruptions, He knew what the coming events would do to His disciples’ faith and peace of mind. They would be confused about His death and would face certain persecution after His resurrection and ascension. Jesus wanted His disciples not to seek peace in their surroundings and circumstances but in Him. Jesus knew exactly what was coming in His life, His disciples’ lives, and He knows what is coming in ours. He wants us to find our peace in Him.
Even though it may look for a moment like everything is wrong with our world, we can have security, peace, and the confidence that comes with knowing that the One to whom we go in prayer is in control. Regardless of our situation, our heart and mind are guarded by “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” He is our peace in the time of storm.
If I’m following God, shouldn’t I be exempt from hardships?
Adversity is no respecter of persons. I’ve been in a few “perfect storms” in my life, and during those times, I have never felt those struggles happened because I was out of the will of God. Indeed, just the opposite. Sometimes we experience perfect storms not because we have disobeyed God but because we have obeyed Him. God Himself allows us to experience difficult times and sudden trouble not because we’ve done anything wrong but because we may be doing something right. Jesus always did the right thing, yet “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
Can anything good come from my pain?
The Bible says not to be discouraged when you have a disruptive moment. This is often a difficult truth to embrace in the midst of a painful event. God’s Word assures us, though, that problems and pain can be like a teacher in our life, instructing us in the ways of maturity. For our suffering “yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). Pain can be our teacher!
God allows no pain without purpose.
Even as we confront illness, pain, and injury, we need to be biblical Christians claiming God’s promises and living with His presence and purposes in mind. When experiencing adversity, it helps to remember that the biblical heroes of old weren’t immunized against pain in life; Scripture is filled with accounts of their suffering. Job lived a life of integrity, yet he lost his family, wealth, admiration of his wife, and health. Peter’s mother-in-law occupied a sickbed. Samuel became feeble. King David was anguished over the condition of his newborn son. Every biblical character called by God experienced problems in life—so pain is not exclusive to us.
So in conclusion, what can we say is the purpose of pain in the Christian’s life? Ultimately, it is so we might become like Christ by living in total dependence on, and perfect obedience to, God. This was the relationship the first Adam (and Eve) had with God, and Christ came as “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45) to restore it. But change can be painful; every painful experience in life causes us to choose to depend upon our own resources or to depend on God. As we see the fruit of dependence on God, we learn to trust Him more and ourselves less. The apostle Paul said of his own painful experience, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. . . . For when I am weak [in myself], then I am strong [in Christ]” (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10).
Suffering as a Christian has another purpose: It helps us identify with the sufferings of Christ and grow in anticipation and joy at the thought of seeing Him when He returns (Romans 8:17). As we identify with the suffering of Christ through painful experiences, the life of Christ can be revealed through us. “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). Even in life’s most difficult moments, God’s love is sufficient.
No hardship is without purpose in the life of a believer! And God promises to use all things for our good and His glory. His great love will certainly see us through fire and flood. Personal pain and struggle. Relational or financial upheaval.
This is a message our world certainly needs to hear right now.
Multitudes are hungry for hope amidst hardship...for purpose in their pain. You and I know that the only answer is Jesus Christ—and together, through Turning Point, we’re pointing multitudes to Him by delivering the unchanging Word of God to an ever-changing world.
And today, I warmly invite you to stand with us in sharing this message across the country and with multitudes who urgently need to hear it.
Please pray and give generously today as God leads. Thank you!