Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Good Pain

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. . . . No doubt Pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 83,85)

Several years ago an emotionally wounded man approached me with a bitter complaint against God. He said to me (I paraphrase):
Suppose you had a father who relentlessly hurt and abused you. And no matter how much you wanted his love and acceptance and tried to please him you just got beaten down instead. How would you feel about this father?

His implication was abundantly clear. He felt he was a victimized son and God his heavenly Father was pretty much a moral monster.

How could I help this brother?

I immediately decided to reframe the situation in hopes of providing him with a different mental image of God and suffering. I painted another portrait for him to consider and I’d like to share the picture with you.

Let’s think like this…

When we are experiencing pain, we should envision God as a great physician. Life wounds us. None of us comes to God whole. Rather, we come to him—time and time again—broken and battered, dazed and confused. Sin is our problem.

God the Great Physician is determined to make us well and He will stop at nothing to do so. He will perform radical procedures to cure what ails us. He will tirelessly repair, restore, and rehabilitate all that harms or diminishes us. And as anyone with even a modicum of experience with doctors will tell you: The most skilled and compassionate physician will often inflict a lot of pain.

But it’s good pain. It’s the pain of progress and healing. Our great physician God brings good pain into our lives so that no amount of brokenness will cripple us.

Now, dear reader, which picture do suppose is more accurate? Does God most resemble a mean father or a great physician? How can we know for sure? I think the answer is clear when we see God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

Life breaks us. Jesus makes us whole. His work is often painful but it’s never loveless.