O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?
– Habakkuk 1:2
The little boy dangled his feet from the table in the doctor’s examination room. At four years old, he had obediently followed his mom and dad into the room without any understanding of what was about to happen. The gentle voice of the doctor gave no indication of what was about to threaten every ounce of trust the boy had in adults. If he heard one of them say, “This is going to hurt me more than you,” he would adamantly disagree until he one day accompanied his own child to an appointment for vaccinations. When we experience pain, even for our greater, future good, we are temporarily consumed by its presence. Our only thought is to make it go away.
Thankfully, just like the boy’s parents, God allows pain in our lives so we can receive the benefit of what it produces in us. That is a hard pill to swallow some days, isn’t it? Yet we know that when we become disciples of Jesus, He calls us to die to ourselves. Because death is synonymous with pain, even though we may accept its purpose, we often cry out to God, “Why so much pain?” There are things that only pain can produce; love, patience, perseverance, mercy, compassion, generosity, and humility, just to name a few.
Habakkuk was perplexed by pain, but he also wanted to understand. Why would a loving God allow His chosen people to suffer so much? He failed to realize that pain in the hands of God is far better than good in the hands of the enemy. When God allows great pain, the result is great deliverance. Habakkuk’s cry is truly relevant for us today.
O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore, the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore, perverse judgment proceeds.
Habakkuk’s words describe our society today. As God’s people, we cry for an end to all the trouble in our families, streets, schools, organizations and government. Yet, God’s ways are not our ways; God wants us to learn how to endure pain and suffering while abiding in great peace, contentment, hope, and joy as we overcome. Maturity comes when instead of running from our pain, we allow it to liberate our lives. Life is not merely existing; true life is dying to self as we surrender to the Savior. We must die before we can truly live. Then with Paul we can say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). If we genuinely desire deliverance from pain, we must fully embrace Jesus’ death on the cross and the life His pain makes possible. When we do, hope will overtake us and fill us with His joy.
Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C. S. Lewis
Holy Father, you know so well how I want to run from pain. Thank you for loving me enough to help me walk through it–as an overcomer and not a victim. Help me to learn everything about You that only pain can teach, and when I reach the other side, please show me how to help someone else as they suffer. Thank you for how tenderly You care for my struggling heart and for the way you always lead me back to hope in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.