Though many may bristle at it, there is one undeniable truth regarding what we deserve in our fallen, Adamic nature – fire and torment. We don’t deserve even the scantest measure of comfort and relief. Paul plainly teaches that every human born into the world (excluding the Lord) has the nature of the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). The torment that awaits the wicked is also deserved by the righteous. Many ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The proper question to ask, however, is “Why does anything good ever happen to any man?” We must realize that the Lord, as infinitely merciful and kind as He is, is under no obligation to overcome all the detrimental effects of sin that touch us. Disease, pain, and distress are all effects of sin in this world.
Please don’t get disgusted at the previous paragraph and stop reading. I did hit you with a stark, brusque reality, but now it’s time for the good news! Though we deserve all of sin’s poison, thanks be to God that He kindly cares for us providentially, relieving pain, curing and preventing diseases and traumas, and comforting our heavy hearts. We must also consider that, despite the pain and discomfort we experience today, how many days He has blessedly prevented us from injury, disease, and pain. Should we dare believe that we have the wonders of God inventoried? As the old, sweet hymn declares, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform”! So many of His providences are unseen by our feeble sight. Many charge God foolishly over a day of pain, not appreciating the thousand pain-free days He has gracefully provided.
Pain also serves to remind the child of God of their need of Him and His salvation. As a child runs to Momma after a scuffed knee, the child of grace desires a closer fellowship with the Father in times of great need, distress, and pain. Paul testified of this after beseeching the Lord thrice to remove the thorn in his flesh. The Lord’s response to the prayers of His faithful servant – “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…” (2 Corinthians 12:9). David’s testimony was the same – “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now I have kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67); “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
Even the worst pains become exponentially more bearable when one can look to the end of the travail. My dear wife birthed four children. Believe me, she had travail. Yet, even her labor pains were nothing compared to so many women who have lovingly suffered for long hours in agony of labor without epidurals or other reliefs of modern medicine. How could they bear it? How can some women willingly bear such pains one, three, ten, or twenty times? It’s because they are looking to the fruition! They desire that lovely infant. That makes all the burdens and pains worth it. By the same token, a life full of pain on Earth, though seemingly unbearable, is nothing more than a fleeting vapor as compared to eternity. We as the beloved of Jesus Christ can take power from His promises – “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” (Romans 8:18). Notice the promise inherent in this statement. It teaches that as bad as it could ever possibly, conceivably get in this short life of ours, the joys of heaven will be conversely more glorious and, at the same time, eternal! Just imagine how much torment, savagery, and travail could be heaped upon you. As bad as that would be, that measure of pain would never come close to the measure of joy and comfort we’ll have in heaven forevermore!
We all need to spend more time anticipating the delivery rather than agonizing over the travail. Lord, give us the grace to do so.