Here’s the thing about pain in the life of the believer: it’s for your good.
Always. No question (for extra credit, take a look at Ps. 119:71; Col. 1:24).
God doesn’t waste anything in the life of the person whose heart is bent on serving him and knowing him more. Nothing, not even the pain. Since you know pain happens, why does it surprise you when it happens to you? And worse yet, why do you pull away from it, hate it, and even attack it when you have a God who will use it for good if you will only trust him with it?
As a believer you need never let your pain be wasted or used against you. You waste it when you ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. And it is used against you when you let it become your excuse to sin. Sinful responses to pain destroy you, while godly responses uplift you. So what is a godly response to pain? And how do you make use of something that hurts so much?
Good questions. The answers have to do with the reasons why God allows suffering and pain in your life. See, if pain were just a random attack on you—if there were no spiritual reason behind it other than your destruction—then you’d have a reason to be upset and resentful. If pain serves no purpose in the life of faith, then you’re right to want to medicate it, cover it up, and avoid the sensation at all costs. But because pain serves a big purpose in the life of faith, you can’t do what the rest of the world does and sweep it under the rug or let it pile up on you and destroy you.
No, pain is the coach of character. In fact, pain is the gym class teacher that screams in your ear to keep doing push-ups. It’s the ultimate Biggest Loser experience. It’s the way to having a heart that needs nothing but God and because of that can move mountains. And to endure and get over your pain is to see the value in it and to respect it but not fear it. It is to experience it and not numb it or forget it but let it be your spiritual training. When you do, you will see that the things it can teach you are unbelievably important—things like endurance, character, confidence, joy, hope, and trust (see Rom. 5:3; James 1:2–4).
Suffering isn’t something new. It isn’t something rare, and it isn’t just reserved for us sinners. Christ himself suffered, and in reading about his suffering you can learn another important lesson about pain. Hebrews 5:8 says, “Although Jesus was the Son of God, he learned to be obedient through his sufferings.” Obedience isn’t what saves you, but it is what proves you know Christ (see 1 John 2:3), and in suffering your obedience is proven in a major way. Suffering is the hardest place for obedience to happen. You might even say that obedience is not really obedience when you’re just doing what you want to do and it’s just your nature, but when it’s hard, that’s when you prove your faith—through doing what you should even when you don’t want to. Suffering brings out the obedience in us because it gives us a chance to choose not to be angry, bitter, resentful, vengeful, or hateful, even though we naturally want to be.
And we aren’t because we see pain for what pain is—a lesson in the life of faith.