I would say that the problem of pain and suffering have caused more people to dismiss God than any other single issue. Many people just simply cannot understand how a God of love and compassion can allow, or cause, pain and suffering in the lives of those He supposedly loves. It is a troublesome truth for those who lean upon their own understanding rather than seek to understand from what we can learn from God’s Word. If we will learn of God’s ways, through His Word, then we can begin to see that God can even use our suffering, our tears, as part of His plan for our lives.
Within the span of nine verses, in Psalm 119, the Psalmist acknowledges that it was “good” that the Lord had “afflicted” him. The Hebrew word for “afflicted” means “to cause pain, to afflict,” or “to humble.” We people can be so arrogant, believe that we independent, and the focus of the Universe. To make a statement like, “He can’t be a God of love who would allow such suffering throughout the world” is evidence of our arrogance.
I learned that my understanding is minuscule many years ago as my baby girl sat on my lap in a medical lab. She was so sick, so lethargic, and I just wanted to help her. The nurse came and drew blood from her finger. As soon as the nurse pricked her finger my little girl let out a bloodcurdling scream that shook the building. At the same time, she looked up at me in disbelief that I would allow her to suffer such pain. There was no way for me to explain to her that what I was allowing to happen to her was for her “good.” My little girl simply had to trust me in her pain and I must trust God in my pain as well.
My understanding of pain is oftentimes no more clear than a two year old. When my daughter was suffering she didn’t push me away, she buried her crying eyes in my shoulder as I wrapped my big arms around her, stroked her hair, and reassured that it was going to be alright. The Psalmist says, “May your unfailing love be my comfort…” In my lack of understanding I will not push God away, but, like my daughter, I will allow my Father to comfort me in my suffering.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You would help me to remember that I don’t have all of the answers when my emotions would lead me to ask questions that run counter to Your Word. Rather than rebel, help me to seek comfort in Your strong, compassionate arms.