Pain comes into everyone’s lives, but we as Christians have a hope that is greater.
I hate running. I’ll tell you that straight up. Also, I don’t like to go to the gym at all, but I do it anyway. Why do I put myself through that? It’s because I need to. It helps me and strengthens me to do what I need to do.
I can think up every excuse regarding why I don’t want to work out, but afterward, I’m always glad I did. I’ve realized that if I don’t go to the gym, I’ll pay for it later. There’s some truth to the expression “no pain, no gain.” You break muscle down to build it up.
God has a gym, if you will, and in his gym he breaks things down to build them up. There are times in life when we go through trials and suffering, and we don’t like it one bit. We go into it kicking and screaming, saying, “Lord, no. Not again! I don’t want this.”
But later we see the results. The Bible tells us there is good that can come as a result of pain:
“At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.” —Hebrews 12:11
There is no pleasure in pain, of course. But God will allow us to go through times of pain to bring forth something far greater. And here’s what we need to remember: We are loved by God.
As Charles Swindoll pointed out:
“The greater the groan, the greater the glory. God is not the source of pain, and he did not promise to prevent our suffering. Instead, he promised that no pain would go to waste. What the world intends for harm, God will use for our good.”
If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, then the joy to come will be greater after you have come through the trial you’re in. No matter what you’re going through, you have a hopeful future.
I can tell you with complete confidence that whatever you’re facing today, the best is still yet to come. You have God’s promise in the pages of Scripture:
“We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” —Romans 8:23
One day all of the groaning and waiting will be over. As a Christian, you’ll be welcomed to heaven. Your suffering eventually will end, and you’ll have greater strength and deeper joy. Because he has adopted you, because you’re his child, all things ultimately will work out for your good and for God’s glory.
We can find one of the best examples of adoption in the Old Testament story of David and Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was the grandson of King Saul and the son of David’s buddy, Jonathan. Because King Saul was wicked and disobeyed the Lord, God removed him. God raised up David when he was still a shepherd boy.
When Saul realized that David would take his throne, he made it the purpose of his life to destroy this young man, including attempts on David’s life. David, however, wouldn’t strike back at Saul. In fact, he became close friends with Jonathan, Saul’s son.
Jonathan asked David to take care of his family if anything happened to him, and David promised he would. Then one day, King Saul and Jonathan were slain in battle. So David made an inquiry: “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Sam. 9:1).
As it turned out, there was. Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth, who was living in Lo-debar. And there in Lo-debar, a tragic thing had happened to him as a young boy. He had been disabled. He couldn’t use his legs because he was dropped when people fled in a panic after Saul and Jonathan were killed.
Also, potentially, Mephibosheth could have been a threat to David, because one day he could try to take David’s place as the king.
Yet when David heard about Mephibosheth, he sent for him. Mephibosheth probably thought, Oh, that’s it. I’m dead.
Yet when they brought Mephibosheth to him, David basically said, “You’re welcome at my table. You’re part of my family now. You take a seat at the table.”
In some ways, like Mephibosheth, we’ve been dropped in life. Our lives are broken. But God specializes in taking people who have been dropped in life and lifting them up. That is what David did for Mephibosheth, and that is what God has done for us. God is getting us ready for heaven. Suffering reminds us that the earth is not our home. Heaven is. Suffering and pain cause us to depend not on ourselves but on God.
Why doesn’t God stop our suffering? Sometimes he does. And there is nothing wrong with asking him to. But here’s the thing to remember: Everyone suffers. Everyone has pain in life. It doesn’t matter how rich they are, how famous they are or how beautiful or handsome they are. Whoever they are, wherever they are, everyone suffers in life.
The Bible says that God “gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matt. 5:45). Christians die in automobile accidents just like nonbelievers do. Christians get cancer just like nonbelievers do. Christians get old just like nonbelievers do. We go through the same things.
But there’s a big difference we don’t want to miss. It is only the Christian who can know that God is ultimately in control and can work all things together for good. It is only the Christian who has the Holy Spirit helping him or her through times of hardship. And it is only the Christian who knows that one day, we will be rewarded in heaven.
This article appeared on Greg’s blog and is reposted here by permission.