Does God ever cause us pain? Well, to be sure most pain in this life comes from elsewhere. Disease and death afflict us simply because we belong to a fallen human race. As Paul said in Romans 5:12, “So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned.”
Some suffering comes to us by the deliberate hands of ornery people. Paul reported in 2 Timothy 4:14, “Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm.”
Some of it isn’t quite so deliberate, like the way I hurt my wife’s feelings yesterday. I attribute that to being a hapless victim of the fallen human race (but I still apologized).
There is a pain that comes because of our own foolish choices. Solomon asked, “Can a man walk on hot coals without scorching his feet?” – Proverbs 6:28.
And some suffering comes to us directly from the bowels of hell. Paul wrote, “there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” – 2 Cor 12:7 KJV.
These things tend to harm us.
But what about God? Does God ever cause us pain?
I gained insight into this question when my youngest was about three. He complained of a painful earache. My wife took him to our family physician – a kind and considerate man. The doc took an instrument and gently probed his ear.
The boy cried and jerked himself away. He then looked the doc in the eye and in his little toddler voice he asked, “Why you hurt me?”
The doctor indeed was causing the boy pain. But it was a necessary pain – the first step on the way to eliminating a greater pain. If the condition had gone untreated, there would have been sad and irreparable consequences. This pain wasn’t intended to harm, but to heal.
I see the same loving approach by our Father in heaven. The author of Hebrews wrote, “My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.” Hebrews 12:5-6
This discipline is not punitive, it is concerned with training. Picture God as a devoted parent or even an effective athletic coach.
With that in mind let me quote the next 2 verses of Hebrews 12, from the Message Bible,
“God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.” Hebrews 12:7-8
But is it painful? You bet! Verse 11 says, “Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.”
Coach Guido caused me an immense amount of pain during football practice, but when I excelled in the game, I was grateful for the pain in the preparation.
It’s a lot to grasp. We have a Father in heaven who knows us well and has a personal plan for each of us – to shore up our weaknesses, heal our imperfections and to develop and strengthen us. In fact, He sovereignly uses any and every pain that comes to us to that end.
“Why you hurt me,” my son asked. The doc was stunned and didn’t know what to say, but he pulled my son’s little head to his chest to give him a gentle hug. He was genuinely sad that pain had to be a part of the healing.
I am thinking that God feels the same way about our pain – necessary but sad.
So, the next time pain brings a tear to your eye, know that there may be one in the eye of the Father as well.
A PRAYER: Lord help discern the ways in which you are personally training us.
This has been Jim Johnson with pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Scripture references are from the NETBible.com unless otherwise noted.