The Problem of Pain


Jesus made it clear that storms will enter every life. But it is through these storms and hardships and tribulations that we will enter God’s kingdom.

Storm Warnings

Jesus made it clear that storms will enter every life. But it is through these storms and hardships and tribulations that we will enter God’s kingdom.

As Dr. Luke phrased it: “And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:21-22 NKJV).

We don’t always like to read a verse like that. It’s probably not a passage we want to write in calligraphy on a plaque and hang by our front door.

We would rather the passage read, “Through many days of perpetual happiness, we enter the kingdom of God.” But that isn’t Scripture, and that isn’t life. Trials and tribulations will come.

Job said it well: “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1 NIV). Another version translates it like this: “How frail is man, how few his days, how full of trouble!” (TLB)

Two houses hit by storms

In the wrap-up to His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told a story about two men who built two homes. They may have been at the same time and close to together. They might have even had the same floor plan.

One of the builders, however, erected his home on shifting sand, while the other built his home on a stable rock foundation.

Then the storms came, with wind and driving rain hitting both of those houses—hard! The house that had been built on sand collapsed and fell in upon itself, while the one built on the rock stood firm.

The obvious moral of the story is to build your life on a foundation that will last, like the one we find in the pages of God’s Word.

But here’s an application we sometimes miss. The storm came to both lives. The wind beat on both houses. The rain poured on both building sites.

The man who was wise and carefully chose a stable foundation got hit with the same hurricane-force winds as the man who foolishly took shortcuts and didn’t bother to plan ahead.

No one is exempt

We will all experience storms in life. Good things will happen to us, as well as tragic and inexplicable things. Every life will have its share of pain.

As much as we would like to believe otherwise, none of us can take an extended vacation beyond the reach of human suffering and tragedy.

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli summed up life in this pessimistic way: “Youth is a mistake. Manhood is a struggle. And old age a regret.”

Another answer

I understand Disraeli’s pessimism, but allow me to offer another answer. God is in control of the life of the Christian and and can actually bring good out of bad.

That is what the Bible teaches, and that is what I believe. That’s not to say that God will make bad into good, because bad is bad. But it is to say that good can come out of bad.

As Romans 8:28 affirms: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NKJV). A better translation would be, “He is causing all things to work and to continue working together for good.”

Life is a process and, as finite beings who live moment to moment, we can’t see around the bend. We can’t discern God’s ultimate purposes.

But we can know this: He is watching and caring, in control and loving us with an everlasting love.

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