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I had a friend recently who was struggling with a theological conflict. He could not reconcile how God could be both completely good, yet still allow pain. Surely a good God would not hurt His children, right? 

We chatted about this for several hours, and I reassured him that God was indeed good, and reminded him that we never have the full picture on life. We don’t know what point of the story we’re in, and we don’t know the outcome. Yet, just last week we talked about the trials Job went through. According to Calvin, it’s accurate to say that Satan, the Chaldeans, and God were responsible for Job’s pain. This caused our conversation to circle back around to the beginning: If God can cause pain, can He really be good?

After that conversation I had an epiphany: I’ve made a wrong assumption about pain. I imagine you have too.

Pain isn’t something we enjoy, but perhaps we’re wrong to assign a moral value to it. There are times when pain is evil—There are many in prison today who are justly there for the pain they have caused others. However, there are also times when pain may be good! 

  • The pain of a sunburn reminds me to protect my skin from potential long-term damage. 
  • The pain from touching a hot iron should tell me to be more careful when I’m doing my laundry.
  • The pain I experience when I run should tell me to slow down (or perhaps spend the morning sleeping in!).

Not all pain is evil. Some pain is instructive. Some pain may, in fact, be good! Wisdom helps us to learn from our pain and trust our sovereign God. We’ll dig into this more this week in Ecclesiastes 7. Invite a friend to join you, I believe it will lead to a great gospel conversation! 

~ Pastor Jeremy