First off, let me say that I’m nothing of an expert on the subject of pain and suffering, nor am I a theological genius with any solid theology on the subject. I have had some pain and suffering, a miscarriage, internal bleeding, severe debilitating hip pain intermittently that recently landed me in the ER, so I have some personal experience on the subject. I’ve been thinking about it recently, since so many of our plans have been delayed due to the recent flare up of hip pain that I had, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts, for what it’s worth. I know there have been others far more educated than I who have spoken eloquently on the subject, so I may inadvertently include some of their ideas.
I know that pain and suffering were not in God’s original plan for us. He created perfection in the Garden of Eden. We, as humans, screwed that up when we chose to sin, to believe Satan’s lie that God was holding out on us, keeping something good from us, and chose to grab that forbidden item anyway. We could blame Adam and Eve, but we all enter into that sin and choose to disobey God at some point in our lives, if not on a regular basis. We all, at some point, believe that God’s rules are not made for our safety and our happiness, but because He is holding out on us, trying to keep us from something good, and we grab that thing anyway. That’s not to say that all pain and suffering is a direct result of our disobedience, a punishment directly related to the crime, though some is a natural result of our choices to disobey. It is to say that we live in a world that now has pain and suffering in it, because there is sin in the world, there are now diseases and decay, and the perfection of Eden has been lost to us. That is one part of pain and suffering that I understand.
On a more personal level, I believe that God is all powerful, all wise, completely just, and infinite in Love. I still struggle with why God allows us to suffer when He is all-powerful and could stop the diseases, choices, situations, that lead to suffering. After thinking of it more fully, and due to some of the discussions we had recently at our training week in Pennsylvania, I believe it is His justice that allows the suffering and pain on this earth to continue, as a reminder that we have chosen, and continue to choose, our own way and sins. We choose the lies of the Deceiver over God’s perfect Garden. He has told us that the wages of sin is death.
However, His infinite Love did not want us to continue to suffer the results of our sin and bad choices, so He sent His own child, Jesus, who could take the punishment for all our sin because he himself was without sin. He could take our guilty verdict and it’s accompanying sentence of death only because He himself was not under that verdict due to his own sins. Justice was met out on God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, part of the trinity.
Even so, we still live under the results of the curse on this world. “All creation groans” waiting for its redemption, the day that Jesus will return and rid the world of all corruption, decay, pain, suffering, and death itself will die.
In the meantime, God is able to take even the imperfections of our sinful world, the pain, the suffering, the hatred, envy, strife, war, evil, and work something good out of it. What is meant for evil, He can turn to good. I’ve not been very good at remembering or acknowledging this in the past. Especially after my miscarriage, I felt that God didn’t love me, didn’t have good plans for me, was holding the good I wanted away from me. In short, I participated as fully as Adam and Eve in the sin of the Garden of Eden, in believing the lies of Satan. However, God has offered peace and healing through His Son, Jesus Christ. I choose to take that peace, accept the forgiveness, reject the lies. I choose to see how he has supported me through the pain, provided for my needs, given me a husband, family, and friends to support me, supply my monetary needs, soothe my soul. I do not have a choice at the world in which I live, but I do have a choice of how I live in that world. I have a choice of who and what to believe. I choose to walk in the cool of the evening with the LORD, as Adam and Eve did before the entrance to the Garden was guarded by angels with flaming swords. Perhaps I will forget at times, and still make the wrong choice. But the God who sent His own Son to buy my forgiveness will not let me go for long.