Pain and suffering, whether physical or emotional, are a very real part of this earthly life. While no one wants to experience pain, many live with it on a daily, and sometimes constant, basis. What does the Bible tell us about pain? What does it say about our suffering in this life?
1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” And in Peter 5:6-10, we find, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
The pain and suffering we endure in this life are part of our growth in Christ. Although each of us may endure a different type of pain, we all suffer in some way as we do our best to shun the ways of the world and keep our faith in our Heavenly Father and the finished works of our Savior Jesus Christ. Even though our pain can be debilitating at times, God knows what we are going through, and He is beside us always, giving us strength to endure as we continue to learn and grow in His Word and will. In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, we are told, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” There is truly nothing we go through in this life that is of more value than our eternal salvation. By keeping our focus on God’s promises, the pain and suffering we endure now is truly a ‘light affliction’ in comparison to the glory of the eternal life we shall receive.
When we look at the life of Christ on earth, we find that He was well acquainted with pain and suffering. In Isaiah 53:3-4, we are told, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” And in Hebrews 2:9-10 we read, “But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through many sufferings.” And Peter 4:1-2 tells us, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” Christ had to endure suffering to bring us salvation and free us from the law of death, and as co-heirs with Christ, we can expect that we will experience pain and suffering in this life to prepare us for our eternal one with Him.
God’s Word tells us that, as we face afflictions in this life, it strengthens us spiritually and helps us to become more Christ-like. In Romans 5:1-5, we learn, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” And James 1:2-4 reminds us, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” And in verse 12, he adds, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”
Even as we deal with pain and suffering, knowing that God is working in us to prepare us for our eternal life with Him, He makes it abundantly clear that we are not alone as we go through the many afflictions in this life. Psalms 34:17-19 tells us, “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Paul, in seeking relief from his affliction, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, says, “And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” And we can stand upon Philippians 4:13 (NKJV), which tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Everything we go through in this life is preparing us for our eternal one. We may not always understand God’s reasoning, but He tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We need to keep our faith in God and His promises, knowing that His perfect work will be completed in us as we navigate the suffering and afflictions of this life. In the book of Romans, we can find several passages that can help us stand strong in our faith no matter what we are struggling through. Romans 8:18 says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” When we keep our eyes on our Heavenly Father and trust His Word, we can stand firm in our belief of what Paul wrote in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” And of course, in Romans 8:35-39, we find, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Grace and blessings on your path,