I don’t know about you but I’m allergic to pain.
I don’t like it! If I can avoid it, I will.
And I suspect that you feel the same way.
Sure, there are people who like pain but psychiatrists have special names and categories for people like that.
Well, with our extreme dislike for pain, it only makes sense that our theology would reflect it. It would seem consistent to believe that our God does not bring pain on us … and if it happens to us, it didn’t come from God. Sure God is there to help us through painful times but He certainly didn’t send it. So, we are in the right to despise pain and see nothing of value to be gained through it.
But, that would be a very wrong conclusion and a faulty theology.
Recently, I was reading in the Gospel of John and came across two very powerful verses that deal with pain. Here they are…
John 18:10-11 “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?'”
Did you see the reference to pain?
No, I’m not referring to the horrible pain that Malchus felt when Peter cut off his ear. Yes, that would have hurt but there is another reference to pain that I want to draw your attention to.
I’m talking about the pain that Jesus referenced when he told Peter to put his sword away.
“Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Whenever you see the word “cup” used metaphorically in the Bible, it is referring to suffering. “Cup” refers to pain that needs to be, metaphorically speaking, swallowed and experienced.
So, what is the pain that Jesus is referring to?
The physical pain He would experience during His trial and then the physical pain on the cross.
But, even more importantly, it would be the emotional and spiritual pain as He bore the punishment of our guilt upon Him. It would be the pain of having His own Heavenly Father turn His back on Him while He was on that cross.
Jesus saw that pain as something God had sent His way. He wasn’t thrilled at the thought of experiencing it but He wasn’t going to run away from it, either. Because He knew it would be used by God to accomplish something wonderful! Our salvation and His glory!
Friend, we don’t like pain. But, the fact of the matter is that our pursuit of holiness, submission to God, and love for Him often progresses at a snail’s pace when life is going great. But, when life gets tough, we tend to find it easier to drop to our knees. If the Lord leaves us in that painful situation for long, we may find that when it is all over, we have grown immensely in our walk with Him.
So, don’t run away from pain. Don’t wield your sword like Peter and try to fight it off. You don’t have to like it. You just have to realize that it is often what God uses to make us more like His Son. That being said, embrace it and then celebrate what God does through it in you.