The Purpose of Pain

3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5: 3-5

Simply put, I would say the purpose of pain is to indicate that something is wrong. When my finger hurts, the pain tells me that I need to take my finger off the stove. God designed our bodies that way. Pains in LIFE indicate something is wrong too, with the world. It’s affected by sin. But, God doesn’t STOP it. He ALLOWS it, sometimes even SENDS it. Ask Job.

A friend’s recent e-mail contained the following: “When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities. When GOD doesn’t solve your problems HE has faith in your abilities.” I would add the qualifier, “He has faith in your abilities,” PUT there by His “training” and His Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:3-5, talks of “exulting in our tribulations,” because they bring about certain thinking, which results in certain behaviors and HOPE.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s  devotional, “God is on the Cross,” says “In suffering, the deliverance consists in our being allowed to put the matter out of our own hands into God’s hands”

Job never did get an exact answer to the WHY of his suffering but he learned much from it that wouldn’t have been learned without it. To me, the story of the silversmith gives understanding and hope, though many answers are still lacking. Malachi talks of the silversmith who sits over the fire while the silver is in it. If he doesn’t let the silver in the fire long enough, he won’t burn out all the impurities. If he lets the silver in the fire too long, he will ruin it and either way, it will be worthless to fashion into something of value to him.

So how does the smith know the silver is ready to come out of the fire? The silver is ready, when the smith sees his image in the silver.

Then He can fashion it into what He wants it to be. But first, He has to cause the heat, the pain, and what appears to be neglect; He has to cause all these things to work together for………well, you know.
~Lee Mielke

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A Mind Set on Christ

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.
Job 19:25-26

I am not at a time or place in my life where I have felt the ability to engage in serious and lengthy fasting. I suppose no one has ever really felt that they were well-equipped to fast, to take up any sort of ascetic practice for that matter. Unless such practices are made into fads they are completely counter-intuitive and rebel against a nature that constantly seeks satisfaction. It seems odd and difficult to understand that we, as Christians, should feel the need to create ‘self chosen suffering’ when we live in a world where suffering is unavoidable. Why choose not to eat out of abundance while others cannot eat out of poverty?

Yet the Lenten season is a time set aside for the practice of fasting. It may be viewed as a time of solidarity with the poor and the weak of the world. God, however, scoffs at such half-hearted reasoning in Isaiah 58, calling out the two-facedness of His people’s pious practice. What then? Fasting is not the avenue through which we meet God. This mindset begins to strip Christ’s suffering of its meaning. Rather, the period of fasting is meant to reflect that which Christ’s suffering reveals to us: heartfelt vulnerability and vigorous trust. Job’s words of assurance could not have come apart from the recognition of who he is in relationship to God, a recognition viewed through the lens of his suffering.

Fasting, then, serves as this ultimate reminder of the ways in which we try to avoid true suffering. Fasting must become a time of preparation so that when life inevitably gives suffering, we approach with a mind set on Christ rather than comfort.

~ Ben Gibson