Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, if you turn to Him then with praise, you will be welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away.
C.S. Lewis had a difficult time dealing with his wife’s death. It presented him with a crisis of belief, because the pain was real and immense. But C.S. Lewis’ experience is not any different then the rest of humanities’ experience. Everyday people experience pain and suffering, crying out to God and finding no answer.
Let’s be honest, when tragedy happens, when pain enters our lives, God doesn’t always feel close by. Where was God when the World Trade Center was burning in New York? Where was God when a drunk driver killed your friend? Where was God when your parents got divorced? Where was God when your brother got involved with drugs? Where was God when my uncle got cancer and died?
If we were all powerful like so many people claim God to be, then we would use that power to make the world right and good. When we see a friend of ours hurt and suffering we want to do whatever it takes to fix the situation. We love them, and want their lives to be good. Haven’t we heard that God loves us and wants our lives to be good? If that is the case why does God allow suffering to happen?
I know that pain is not a pleasant experience. It hurts! You are out there thinking, “Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I knew that before I came to this class.” Here is my point, even though pain hurts, it is valuable to our lives. One of the worst Star Trek movies made, is Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier. The only redeeming part of the movie is a line the Captain Kirk has. The crew meets up with Spock’s half-brother, a Vulcan who has discovered how to take away the emotional pain that we all have. Imagine what your life would be like if all the emotional baggage you carry could suddenly be taken away. You simply forget about that time you father yelled at you and called you sissy boy. You forget about the deaths of your grandma and of your dog Spot. You don’t remember the betrayal by your best friend when she stole your boyfriend. The fact that you other kids call you fat vanishes from your mind. Wouldn’t that be great!? This Vulcan offers to take away Kirk’s pain, and the Captain looks at him and says, “No! I need my pain. My pain makes me who I am.” Pain is valuable to our lives because it shapes our character. Though to be honest, it isn’t the pain that shapes our character, what shapes our character are our choices, suffering is the environment in which we have to make those choices.
James 1:2-5 says, Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking (NLT).
I want you to understand something, God’s greatest concern in your life is not your happiness. God does not intend for His people to constantly go through life feeling like they are on the top of the world. Why? Because that type of life does not create the type of people God wants us to be. If God immediately took away our pain and struggles we would never know what it would be like to trust Him. Pain and suffering often forces us to rely on God in ways we would never have before.
The struggles, trials, and pain of life is what develops Holiness in our lives. That is God’s greatest concern in our lives, that we be holy. We are created to be holy not happy. Because happiness is not the goal God uses pain to create us to be holy. Rebecca St. James wrote, “God really wants to mold all of us -- male, female, young, and old -- into what He created us to be.” Pain, trials, and struggles are one way God molds us into what He created us to be.