One of the great questions we, as humans, always have in regards to God, is this…

If there is a loving God, why is there some much pain and suffering in the world?

One answer is obvious, free will and sin. We are free to make any choice we want and our choices affect others in good ways and bad ways.

There is another answer we don’t talk about a lot… growth.

As human beings, we usually hate change. For better or worse, we are happy not to have to change. We will not change unless our current circumstance becomes unbearable. It is said, pain is the great motivator to change.

Pain, suffering, trials, tribulations, sickness, death, and temptation; all these spur us to change. God’s great purpose is to change us to be conformed to the image of his son, Jesus.

Sometimes, the negative situations we go through are motivation for us to change. Sometimes, it is our responses to these situations that are examples to others of how great our God is, to bring us through the change and to work all things for good.

God, in his sovereignty, allows us to go through all kinds of pain to bring us, and those around us, closer to him.

See also, Romans 8:28-30 and Romans 5:3.

Read also,

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

John Piper, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

16 thoughts on “Purpose in Pain

  1. “God, in his sovereignty, allows us to go through all kinds of pain to bring us, and those around us, closer to him.”
    God the bad parent. If I allowed my children to run into the street and get hit by a car to “teach” them, I’d be arrested, and rightly so

    • Maybe “allows” is the wrong word, maybe not…
      Children run into the street, even adults run into the street, and get hit by cars all the time. In terms of God’s sovereignty, it isn’t his desire for us to do what he told us not to, but in our free will, we are allowed to.
      We act like spoiled children. God says, ‘hot, don’t touch’. We touch anyway and get burned. He says, ‘look both ways before you cross’ or ‘never cross that street’. We cross anyway, get hit, even die. He does want us to, but we have free will, he won’t take that away.
      However, he sent Jesus, so even when we disobey and get hurt or die, we can ask for forgiveness and join him still in eternity.
      He looks at an eternal viewpoint, we can’t see past our noses most of the time…

      • So… God either has to, or He chooses to sit back and yes “allow” it to happen.. when He Could do something to intervene in say, the child abuse or rape situations. Which one? Is He ‘bound’ by our free will from doing anything or does He choose to do nothing?

      • I don’t know. Honestly, in our human limited understanding, I don’t think we can know for sure. I know I was abused as a child, but God has been able to use that to help and heal many people, including myself… If we look deep enough, many outstanding people have horrors in their past that helped shape their future.

      • I’m sorry for your past abuse. That’s horrible. I’m glad you were able to move past it. But that doesn’t really deal with the question of whether God is either unable or unwilling to prevent the abuse in the first place.

      • My own opinion is God chooses not to violate his promise and let’s us keep our free will.
        We can also learn a lesson from Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery.
        He said to his brothers, “As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.”
        Genesis 50:20 NET

      • Seems that, if the bible be believed, God has chosen to usurp free will and intervene in the events of mankind several times. Doesn’t seem shy about it at all. And where is this promise of God you speak of not to violate our free will? Could you give me the reference from the bible?

      • One of the biggest probs with what you’ve said is that it totally negates the promises of answered prayer. Do we then not prayer for God to intervene?

      • What promises of answered prayer are you referring to?

        He is not a genie in a bottle.
        I find nowhere in Scripture that he will always give us the answer we want, except when we are praying according to his will.
        I find lots of instruction on prayer.
        If you browse my site, you’ll find a sermon where prayer is a main topic, also a link to an article on prayer.

      • I’m sure you know the verses encouraging prayer for answers and god to intervene.
        My question however went unanswered. You mentioned God promising not to violate our free will. Could you give me the reference in the bible for that?

      • I did not find the passage I had in mind, so will continue to look.
        What I do find, from beginning to end, Genesis 3 to Revelation, is a pattern where God gives us choices, encourages us in which choice to make, then leaves it up to us to make the correct choice.

      • Again..
        “My own opinion is God chooses not to violate his promise and let’s us keep our free will.”

        Asking for the reference in the bible that God promises not to violate our free will. Thx

      • The other thing is.. if in our limited understanding we know it would be better and more moral to intervene, wouldn’t we expect God’s understanding it morals to be better than ours?

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