The Problem of Pain

Today my heart aches for a long-time friend of mine whose sister is in hospice care for cancer.  Her sister is my sister’s age.  It brings it home.  It challenges all the beliefs I theoretically have about pain.  “The Problem of Pain“, by C.S. Lewis is on a small list of books that I believe saved me at one time or another in my life.  I find feelings of confusion rise up in me and I have to remind myself about the Problem of Pain and Blaming God.

After reading the book, here are the thoughts I wrote down as I processed it:

***

8/27/03 (Note: Right after my separation from first husband)

God is love.  He loves me enough to challenge me and throw me into the fire.  He wants me to be as loveable as possible and thus must refine me.  Refinement is not absent of pain.  It is, in fact, painful by nature.  So often it clouds the memory of the beauty that will come.

I do not believe it is my purpose to be happy, nor any mans.  It is my purpose to respond, as the creature, to my Creator’s love for me.  Though it is by living the purpose He created for me that I will be happy.  Man is to know joy, and to know joy is to know pain and sorrow.

Our free will comes with the price of how we choose to use it; how we choose to manipulate non-sentient, inanimate objects and nature.  What can be used to build up, can also be used to destroy.  One complains about peddling uphill while the other enjoys the ride down.  Is the hill evil?  Is it the intention of the hill to cause pain, or even joy?

Is God “good” when a man uses a plank of wood to build a fire and warm his family and “bad” when that same plank of wood was used to hit someone over the head?

This is the problem of pain.  What is useful and pleasurable for one man, is the demise of another.  God cannot make separate rules for the same object.  While He is omnipotent, he is not insane.  His laws are constant and reliable.  While, yes, He creates miracles, they are just that… miracles.  A miracle wouldn’t be a miracle if it was the norm.

He loves us enough to demand perfection out of us.  The more trials in our lives – the more He loves us.  Our complaints, it turns out, are not that He doesn’t love us enough, but that He loves us too much.

***

I don’t believe that God brings every single trial into our lives for specific purposes.  Some trials are simply the consequence of man, our fallen nature, our dying earth.  (Though, all trials are opportunities for growth.)  When we point the finger at God, if He were to respond in like kind, could justifiably point His right back at us.

Will He intervene? We wonder.  We hope.  We pray.

My prayer for us all is that we allow the dross to be chipped and burned away with all the grace and gratitude we can muster, so that every beautiful facet of the diamonds that are us can sparkle in perfect purity.

Please say a prayer for my friend, her sister, and their family – for miracles in grace and comfort, for miracles in recovery or transition.  For the sake of privacy, I won’t disclose their names, but I can assure you that God knows them.

Thank you, friends.

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Expectation is the Root of All Heartache
What I've Learned in Four Years of Marriage
Measure of Man | A Poem
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