The most doubt I have in my faith comes from the Problem of Pain. How can a loving God let people suffer so greatly? This is a common question and has always been explained away to me, by my people wiser than me, in saying “Sometimes God wants to test us.” I have even heard some people say that perhaps it is Satan that is causing the pain and God simply allowing him to inflict such suffering, as in the story of Job. These explanations seem to be inadequate. I do not believe God is some cruel scientist injecting us with serums of pain to “test” us. I do not believe that He is a parent allowing Satan the child to poke us with a stick. God is much bigger than that; he must have a reason for this suffering.
We as humans are compared quite often to sheep in the bible. Every day, as I mature this comparison seems to be more and more evident. Sheep are dull, stupid, and slow creatures. They’ll follow each other over a cliff to their deaths without a second thought if they see a green patch of grass at the bottom. In the same way, we are spiritually stupid, dull, and slow. We are too mesmerized with the illusive patch of green grass at the bottom of the cliff that we do not turn around to see the luscious field behind us. Pain is God’s indicator to turn around. Just as a shepherd might pull a sheep forcefully away from the edge of a cliff and guide that animal to the fields so can God allow pain in our life to point us in the right direction.
Pain is also God’s indicator that all is not well with the world. God is an artist and uses the different intricacies of his creation to teach us. Just as a musician’s style is evident in everything he plays so can we recognize God’s style in his creation. Pain is not just God’s indicator to turn around, it is also his indicator that all is not well in the world. It hints at our total depravity and the sin that is present in every aspect of our lives.
More than often the main cause of our pain is our disobedience. A sheep may disobey his shepherd and stray away from the herd. In cases like these that sheep could hurt itself by getting caught in a thorny bush or even killed by a wild animal. Sometimes we are like this sheep, we stray away from Christ’s guidance and choose our own path. Christ presents his law for our own benefit. It may seem as if his law constricts our freedom but in reality it is there to protect us. When we disobey we are hurt and a consequence is pain.
Pain is a powerful indicator of imperfection in the world. It is a way to point us toward the truth. Some may say that a loving God would not cause his children to suffer but that is simply not true. A kind God would not let his children suffer. God is much more then kind, he is loving. Consequently, he allows us to choose our own way. Sometimes we cause more pain to ourselves when we disobey his Word. Other times pain is present in our life to remind us of our imperfection and need for Him. It is by God’s grace that we feel pain because it is evidence of our sinfulness.