There Is No Formula for Pain
There is no formula for pain. Consequently, there is no formula to explain pain—only types of sufferings:
- Joseph unjustly sold as a slave and imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Twenty-two years later he said, “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:5, 8).
- Job, a man of complete integrity, sifted by Satan with God’s permission. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15).
- David, the archetype of a Godly man—“a man after God’s own heart,” who sinned deeply and was punished severely. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word…. It was good for me to be afflicted…. In faithfulness you have afflicted men” (Psalm 119:67,71,75).
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into the furnace for refusing to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar. “We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
- Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined….” (Daniel 11:35).
- Jeremiah arrested and put in stocks for speaking God’s word. “But if I say, ‘I will not speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a burning fire. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 29:9).
- The man born blind “so the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3).
- Paul who had a thorn in the flesh: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8).
Also, 380 years of slavery in Egypt, 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness, Daniel to the lion’s den, the persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem, the stoning of Stephen. And there are the sufferings of Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Asa, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many despaired of life itself and wanted to die. Plus all the saints in Hebrews 11 who were tortured, jeered, flogged, chained, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, put to death by sword, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. “The world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:38).
Let us not be people who give formulaic answers for people’s pain. It’s tempting. I know—I’m tempted all the time to match reasons to people’s sufferings. Instead, let us bear their sorrows with them. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.