I have seen even the most prominent Christian Apologists struggle to communicate what God intends to achieve by allowing his children go through various degrees of pain. These thoughts plague my mind very often too. And it turns out to be one of the reasons most people doubt the existence of God. For how can an all-loving God sit back and watch his beloved creation go through pain? People can’t reconcile the idea of a loving God who is our father to the idea of the same God allowing his children to go through pain. I must say, there is some sense in it.
Every morning on my way to work, I encounter so many scenes that put me in a pensive mood for the rest of the day. Indelible scenes line up on the pavements as I walk by. I see beggars in various conditions begging for alms in the most pathetic ways. I am usually filled with anger… at myself… then at them. At myself because I often do not have ‘more than enough money’ to give, and at them because, for some absurd reason I feel they are there mainly to expose my heart. I feel they are there to expose my heart to me: how I only feel like giving to them when I have more than enough. When I look at them, I am filled with compassion too. And I ask myself, ‘what did they do at all to be born lepers?’ The disciples were troubled by this too. When they asked Jesus, whose sin had caused the man to be blind Jesus was about to heal, he replied, ‘no one has sinned but it is so that the GLORY of the father will be seen’. I won’t sit here and pretend this statement solves it all. As though this statement alone puts this huge monster of a problem to sleep in my mind. I still think about it every time, ‘why should a baby be born with a brain tumor? Why should a child be born and not grow to see his/her mother? Why should anyone die in a fatal accident? Why should anyone be denied the awesome sense of sight? Why is there pain at all? Why?
Congenital Analgesia, is a medical condition where an individual is not able to feel pain. The amazing thing about this condition is, it is referred to as a DISEASE or DISORDER. Amazing, isn’t it? One would have expected scientists to run out of the bath tub, shouting eureka!! eureka!! on the streets for having discovered a state of complete painlessness. But no, it is called a disease or a disorder. To literally break the word down (dis-ease), it means a state of not being at ease or a state of discomfort. Can you imagine living with a relative who was suffering (yes, suffering) from this condition? That would be the most painful experience, forget about that nuisance of a roommate you had to cope with in the university. People like this REQUIRE 24-hour surveillance because they could be hurting and not know it. They could even step on a sharp object and bleed to death in their sleep. Due to the nature of this disease, patients need to be critically observed every minute of the day. Think about how discomforting this could be. You wouldn’t want to have a spouse who suffers from this disease, right? Well, this is the same way God wouldn’t want to be God of a people who cannot feel pain. Pain sometimes teaches us lessons and is very necessary. No matter what we think, a painless life doesn’t bring ultimate pleasure. Nevertheless that is our aim as humans. Well no one said pain is pleasurable, it is certainly discomforting but very necessary. Dr. Ravi Zacharias says it more profoundly *paraphrasing*, ‘meaninglessness in life is not only present in excessive pain but more in excessive pleasure’. People tend to forget how meaningful and important life is when they are satisfying the lascivious desires of their heart. The most absurd experience is to attain a very important feat in life and realizing how empty you feel afterwards. Or how disappointed you become at being filled with lesser joy than you expected after attaining such heights. This is even evident in my own life. I had mapped out several events that would accompany the commemoration of the end of my university education. I planned on being excessively bubbly that day and probably have the biggest bowl of my favorite meal. Then go on to visit my friends and hang out with them the whole day. After writing my last paper, I saw my course mates heartily hugging each other, taking pictures and laughing loudly until they couldn’t catch their breaths. I walked away quietly, looked back at them and then went straight to my room. Wow! for some reason, completing my university education wasn’t that much of a big deal after all. Many a rich man complains about feeling lonely. There are rich men who have been sent to their graves because of depression and one would wonder what at all could trouble a wealthy man.
Only corpses do not feel pain. That’s why they are corpses anyway. It is as if pain certifies your being alive. For when babies are born, it is an expression of pain (crying) that signals to the doctors that the baby is alive and well. From what I gather, the excruciating pain mothers go through in child birth is beyond comprehension. Do we blame God for this? Certainly not, for this wasn’t his original intent for man, pain totally defies the default intentions of God for man. God’s plan is fully seen in the garden: a blissful never ending joyous and painless life where man didn’t even have to work. It was sin that caused all of this. But then, how is God able to watch his children go through all this pain? Well, while we may want to think the pain we go through is the greatest injustice in the world, God thinks otherwise. And he is right too. The greatest injustice ever, is the death of Christ on the cross. This is because, not only was Christ innocent of all the charges leveled against him, he had never sinned. So he deserved no punishment at all. God placed him in the hands of sadistic individuals who had a field day being cruel to an innocent soul. My conclusion is based on God’s reaction to Jesus dying on the cross. From Jesus’ prayer on the cross, it appears God looked away, but allowed it anyway. So if God allowed ‘the greatest injustice’ ever recorded in human history (for your sake), then trust me he would allow us to go through those painful moments. Not meaningless pain, but pain that is for the greater good of humanity and yourself as well. It could be the mere fact that you will tell your story one day to encourage somebody else – your pain has served a humanitarian purpose. The amazing thing is God promises us, he will be there with us. He said. ‘WHEN you go through the fire… I will be with you’. The keyword there is ‘WHEN’. This gives me so much joy that though I might go through pain, God is with me.
The reaction to pain is sometimes amazing. I have been through pain in my life. I went through things at a young age that would rain misery and suffering on adults. I have also seen loved ones go through pain that seems unjustifiable. Yet I still hold on to my faith in God, rather than driving me away from God it rather pushes me in his direction. For if God can see Jesus through the crucifixion and then give him such a glorious reward, I believe he will do same for me, and for you too if only we allow him. O what peace we often forfeit, o what NEEDLESS PAIN WE BEAR, when we do not take all our cares and burdens to him in prayer.
For whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say
IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.