We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis
Where is God in the midst of suffering, when life is hard, and suffering hits, where in the world is God? How are we to respond to suffering?
No one likes getting shots! Who does? I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old, I was certain that getting a shot was the worst thing ever. So when our school offered vaccine shots, I insisted that my younger siblings take the shots. But I came home without taking them. My mother was furious with me and she ordered me to go back the next day and take the shots. When you are a little kid, even now, your mother (thanks, Mom) and the doctor know a little bit more than you about what is good for you in the long run. It is because they have seen more, and they know more. The little bit of pain from the shot is going to make you stronger and keep you from the bigger pain of a serious illness.
Just like the doctor knows more than the patient, God knows more than us. Moms often say to her kids, “Well, you don’t know everything.” I wonder if Mary ever said to Jesus, “Jesus, you don’t know everything”? And Jesus is thinking, “Hmm, I could really show her.” God knows everything. He knows every situation, everyone’s heart and everyone’s thoughts. There is nothing that God can’t see and there will never be anything that will make God say, “Huh, I didn’t see that one coming…”
God allows us to experience little pains and sufferings here and there because He knows that it will work out better for us in the end. I am not minimizing or trivializing the pain and suffering you may be experiencing. The reason that I say “little pains and sufferings” is that compared to knowing Christ and what we will experience in Heaven, everything on this earth, whether good or bad, is rubbish! They are worthless! (Philippians 3:8) Mother Teresa put it this way, “In light of Heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”
God is an all-powerful God who loves us to the extent of sending His only Son to be with us, and to die for us. But on the third day, He rose with victory over sin and death. And if He is victorious over sin and death, He is also victorious over our pain and suffering. What if we view the season of suffering in our lives as a chapter of a bigger story that God is writing in our lives? Though we may not like the chapter we are in, we can trust God to write the whole book. We can trust God to finish the story well, because God is good and faithful. He knows what He is doing. In suffering, may we know who our God is, may we know where He is (Emmanuel, God is with us) and may we know what He is doing. He is writing a bigger narrative in and through our lives so that His glory and power may be displayed to the world around us.