“Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” – Hebrews 2:17-18.
In a “I don’t think they thought this through” moment, a group of men volunteered to subject themselves to pain equal to what women experience in childbirth. The men began the experiment in good spirits, joking and talking about the electrodes that were attached to them. But as the pain began and eventually increased, they started to grimace and recoil in pain—eventually sobbing and screaming and begging to be excused.
Nobody likes pain. We go to great lengths to avoid it. But what if there is a purpose to pain? There is a side to pain and suffering we miss when we focus solely on our pain rather than on God’s greater purpose. Simone Weil illustrates this point when she said, “The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it.”
Hard times have the capacity to deepen your faith and the faith of those around you. If we can see the purpose beyond the pain, we will understand God’s ability to leverage the suffering in your life for greater things. Consider what Peter said in 1 Peter 2:20-21: “Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”
The goal is not to suffer aimlessly, randomly, or mindlessly. God does not orchestrate purposeless suffering in your life but rather, on the contrary, redeems your suffering for His purpose. When we stay focused on our purpose in times of pain it serves as a witness to the power of the gospel. People—our children, our spouse, our friends, our boss, our colleagues at work, even skeptical nonbelievers—will observe the way we handle suffering, and they’ll learn from us.
Nothing testifies to the deep, authentic reality of God’s presence in the life of a believer like watching that believer keep their eyes on Jesus while enduring pain and suffering. Observing a Christian cry out to God in confusion, pain, and anger, while maintaining the faith to reach out in hope and trust, is perhaps the greatest example for the Christian faith the world will ever see.
- Do you see benefit or purpose behind the pain?
- What can we do this week to trust God more in times of pain and suffering?