Why does God allow pain? I mean seriously, what’s the point of pain? There has to be something more than just something we have to bear.
Our culture is both obsessed with pain and terrified of it at the same time.
We are obsessed with stories of people overcoming pain. Almost all of which contain some kind of message that the pain they encountered ended up being a blessing, something they wouldn’t trade. These stories liter our feeds on social media and are in almost every movie Hollywood makes.
In contrast, in our personal lives, we can’t stand even the smallest pain. Pain is our enemy. At the first sign of a headache, we pop a few Tylenol. When we encounter a difficult, or painful, situation our first reaction often is to run. We avoid pain at all costs.
The lives we live are a starch contrast to the stories we are drawn too. Maybe we are thinking about pain in the wrong light.
So, why does God allow pain? Is it possible that He using pain for our good?
The Difference Between Pain and Suffering
Before we go any further we need to define the difference between pain and suffering. All suffering includes pain, but not all pain is suffering. For the purposes of this article, we should not mix the two.
Pain is, in most cases, a good thing. We might not like it, but it protects us and produces good things in us. Which we will get to in just a minute.
The problem is often in our world pain can quickly move to suffering. An accident that leads to lifelong pain. The disease that ravages our body. Harm that was brought upon us by another human. Or the millions that have no access to basic human needs.
Of course, it’s not just physical pain that brings about suffering. Those who have been abused wear scars that seemingly never heal. Betrayal leaves many wondering if they will ever be whole again. Grief causes one’s life to halt and become devoid of meaning.
And the list could go on and on and on. But the point is in our fallen world sometimes pain turns to suffering. Our response to the two should be different.
In this article on what of focus on our response to pain and how it’s a good thing. But if you are looking for more on suffering, you can check out this article I’ve written: Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Why God Allows Pain (The Purpose of Pain)
Most of us think if we could eliminate pain from the world that would be a good thing. But would that really be good?
For some people they don’t have to imagine what a pain-free world would be like, they are living it. A small percentage of the world has a genetic disorder called “congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis” or CIPA, basically meaning they feel no pain. While that might sound like a good thing, it’s not, it’s more like hell living in this world without pain.
Pain is a frontline defense of the body. If you touch a hot stove your body reacts with pain that causes you to quickly move your hand. The pain is a defense mechanism that keeps you from further harm. Pain alerts us something is wrong and we need to stop or seek help. Without pain, we would be in grave danger and not even know it.
But this article isn’t really about the benefit of pain when we step on a rusty nail. We should recognize that, but there’s a larger point I want to make.
Pain is what causes us to grow. I’m not saying every time you stub your toe you become a better person. But there are pains that cause us to grow.
Pain = Growth
Pain is a blessing. I know it almost never seems that way. But pain isn’t our enemy. Pain isn’t something we need to get rid of. Rather, pain has a purpose and is a blessing. Pain is not a danger to avoid. Our unwillingness to face our pain is a far greater danger than the pain itself.
Think about your life. Where you were a year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago. What were the catalysts that caused you to grow? To become better at your job? A better spouse? What caused you to appreciate life more? To mature from a teen to an adult?
My guess is that what caused the most growth in your life was some kind of pain.
We grow the most in the hard seasons of life. Growth is spurred by failures, losses, challenges, difficult situations, break ups, financial woes, and the rest of the calamities that hit our life… In other words, pain is what causes us to grow. We might not like it, but it’s true.
Again, let me reiterate I’m not talking about suffering. The pain that will not go away, that keeps us in bed, ravages our body, and takes everything of joy from our life. God can still use that for good, but I would hesitate to call suffering good. That’s a different topic that you can read here: Why Does God Allow Suffering?
Pain, on the other hand, is good. Pain is meant to be a blessing. It’s through pain that we will grow and develop into who God has created us to be.
The problem is our culture sees pain as the enemy. Failure as the end. Challenges as something to be avoided.
This attitude leads to a lack of growth.
The Bible Promises Pain
Many have this faulty view that when we follow God we are promised a good life, a pain-free life. Which is a selective reading of the Bible at it’s best. The Bible actually does the opposite, it promises that we will experience pain in this life.
Jesus is the prime example of this. He not only faced pain (that he didn’t deserve) he promised it many times to his followers.
In Matthew 10 Jesus sent his disciples out to heal the sick and cast out demons. This was a mission destined to have failure in it. But Jesus sent them anyway. Failure doesn’t mean the end, the pain that comes from failing creates growth. Jesus was using pain to grow maturity in his disciples.
In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus tells his followers to pick up their cross. In other words, deny yourself what you want, and then follow me. It’s a painful picture of what we must give up to follow Jesus. Jesus requires the pain of dying to our self-interests to follow up. Pain is part of the program.
In John 15:20 Jesus promises his followers that others will cause them pain. Jesus was not sparred pain in his life and his followers are not exempt from pain either. Pain is promised.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
If you want a larger picture about what the Bible says about pain you can read the verses here: Verses about pain
Jesus encourages pain. We think pain is the enemy, something to be avoided. Jesus sees pain as an avenue for growth. As a necessary part of this life. He didn’t avoid it, he used it.
How We Should React To Pain
So what should we do the next time we experience some kind of pain?
Don’t Run From Pain
Our first reaction to pain is to run from it, dull it, or to avoid it. But we shouldn’t run from pain. We give up too easily.
If we run from our pain we are missing out on growth opportunities. We are missing out on something that God wants to teach us, grow in us, or mature us in. I know we don’t like it, but for just a minute we need to sit in our pain.
Ask, What Is Pain Telling Me?
A headache might tell you that you are dehydrated. A sharp pain in your foot might tell you that you stepped on a nail. If you listen pain will tell you something.
That’s why it’s so important to not run away from failures, challenges, difficulties, and pain so fast. Your pain is telling you something, it’s teaching you something, you need to figure out what that something is.
When we experience pain we need to pause and ask ourselves, what is this pain telling me?
See Pain As Your Teacher
Pain will mold you and shape you into who God is creating you to be. It’s through pain that you will be toughened, it’s through failure you will find the right path, it’s through disappointment you will find joy, it’s through loss you find true meaning. It’s pain that will grow you. If you let it.
Why does God allow pain? To grow in you something and to mature you into who he is creating you to be. So, will you let your pain teach you?
I’d love to hear from you! How has pain caused growth in your life? Drop a comment down below!
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