We avoid pain because…
We don’t really trust God
When, in the midst of very difficult circumstances, we shake our fists at God and say, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!” … it is a clear indicator that we believe we know what’s best for us and that God is either a) cruel — toying with you like a cat with a ball of string — or b) incompetent — He has no idea what He’s doing. In either case, it’s a clear indicator that we do not in fact trust the Lord. I know it’s hard to see past suffering and the brokenness of the world, but faith sees what is invisible. When we vent our frustration and anger, or question God, what we’re actually saying is that everyone would be better off if God ran the universe your way.
It comes down to this… God is wise, and we aren’t. God, as a loving Father, is at all times masterfully working all things together for our good. If there is pain, it’s because God is using that pain to do something in you and/or in others that you don’t understand and cannot rightly imagine. If you are a child of God, then when you get to heaven (sometimes you won’t even have to wait that long), you will confess with your own lips that God was right and everything suffered at His hand was totally worth it to bring about the results He has dreamed for His children, for His kingdom, and most importantly for His glory. But in order to trust God, we have to learn, even train ourselves, to believe that this is true … that God’s dreams for us (the pure gold) are worth the pain required to refine out of us that which is in the way of our purity (the dross). If the metal were alive, I suspect it wouldn’t like being pounded by the blacksmith. But looking back on those days from the perspective of a gleaming sword or an ornate jeweled necklace, I’m quite sure it would say that it had all been worth it.
It would take far more space than we have to dive into a deep discussion about how to invest well in developing a deeper trust in God. Perhaps we could get into that more in a separate, future post. For the time being, my goal is to raise the vital importance of that trust — to propose that perhaps the origin of angst and frustration in the midst of pain is not in fact God’s unreasonableness, but rather our lack of trust. If we can make that recalibration in perspective, we can at least take a (huge!) step forward in recognizing when we’re failing to take God at His word with regard to our lives.
The next time you find yourself allowing circumstances to measure God’s goodness and interpret God’s heart (producing fear and anger and resentment) instead of allowing God’s goodness to interpret our circumstances (producing peace that passes understanding), then try this … Get alone with God (like in-a-dark-closet-without-your-phone alone) and directly tell Him that it’s hard to trust Him. Ask Him to supernaturally give you a faithful and trusting heart, which you simply do not have and cannot develop on your own. Ask God to work a miracle in you. Soak in Philippians 4:4-9 for a season, and see what God does with it. Preach the gospel to yourself to remind your weary heart of God’s goodness.
It is possible that God’s purpose in bringing the pain your experiencing into your life is that He is explicitly about the work of developing this trust in your heart. Whether it feels like it or not, you can trust Him. And once we accept that, we’re much more likely to accept, even embrace, the things in life that we don’t understand and would never ask for. Trust God’s work as a master goldsmith. His refining power in our lives is removing impurity and dross, so that we may “emerge as pure gold” (Job 23:10).
Read more about the goodness of God.