My daughter HATES getting shots. (The photo above is obviously SO not her.) If I were to have to take her in for even one shot in the arm, here’s what I could expect:
- I’d have to force her into the car.
- We’d sit in the parking lot of the lab or doctor’s office for at least 15 minutes with me talking her into getting out of the car.
- She’d whimper in the waiting room, shaking her legs nervously and wringing her hands.
- When they called her back to the patient room, she’d say she wasn’t going.
- I’d have to get up and pull her out of her seat.
- It would take two nurses and myself (at the least) to hold her, pet her, soothe her, etc. while she received the shot.
- I could go on…
- This is based on real life experience…
Oh, did I mention this is the same daughter who is graduating from high school in two weeks? She has never outgrown this fear of needles and as much as I try I don’t seem to be able to change this worrisome tendency she has. I don’t like shots either, but I don’t act like she does about them. She has a serious problem with needles. Which is only a mild comfort to me when I consider she will probably never shoot up heroine.
When she was younger, or maybe even last week, she would ask me why she had to have shots. Is it really necessary? Didn’t I feel bad about making her get a shot, have a TB test, or give a blood sample?
I would explain to her that I did indeed feel bad about it, but it was necessary. The shot or test was definitely for her own good. I think she gets that now, but when she was just a little girl she could not wrap her mind around how anything painful could possibly be for her good and be ok with her mama.
Sometimes we take that same attitude with God when it comes to the painful things in our lives. We may suffer through them, even stoically, but deep inside we think the painful things of life couldn’t possibly be God’s plan for us.
He would never willingly choose for us to suffer. Right?
At times, believe it or not, God does indeed choose for us to suffer pain. He even appoints us to suffer.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:3 Paul tells the people in Thessalonica that he and the others who were with him had been destined for their current afflictions. And in 1 Peter 4:19 we read:
- God is love. Period. God doesn’t just love. He is love. I can know that anything God destines to come into my life, He has chosen to do so out of love. (1 John 4)
- God is in the processing of doing a huge work in my life. He is transforming me into His image, changing me from the inside out. We like to quote Romans 8:28 that says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose,” but only as a consolation when things start going south. We are wise to realize that this verse serves not only to comfort us when things get bad, but to warn us and alert us to the fact that there will be some painful things God must use to work out His plan in us. The painful things are part of the plan. That leads to the next point.
- God is sovereign; He is in control. Some folks are offended by this characteristic of God. “If God is in control,” they might say, “then why does He allow little children to die, good women to be hurt, people to be victimized, war?” Why indeed. I don’t know, but He does. Nothing takes God by surprise. He is never thrown for a loop or taken off guard. That may offend you or it may comfort you. I choose to be comforted by the fact that I have a God who never has to say, “Oops!”
- The pain always has a purpose. Romans 8:28 doesn’t just suggest that God manages somehow to pick up the broken pieces and put them back together to make something good. The point is that He is fully in charge, fully aware of what He’s doing, and doing it all according to plan. So when we have pain in our lives, there is a purpose for it. Just like the purpose of Abigail’s shots are for her well-being, the purpose of our painful situation, whether great or small, is to change something in us. First Peter 1:6-7 reminds us that our trials are to refine our faith so that by the time we see Jesus face to face we will be fully prepared to give him “praise and glory and honor.” He will be so dear to us and we will be so familiar with Him that we will know Him fully and give Him all that is due to Him.
If you’re going through a painful situation today I invite you to consider these biblical precepts. Sometimes we feel it is safer to just assume that God has “allowed” the painful circumstance, but He doesn’t really want us to have it. We try to create what we consider to be a more compassionate and tender God, I suppose. But in the process we also dumb Him down, knock Him off His throne, and belittle His purposes. I don’t want that kind of God. I don’t think you do either.
So in even in the midst of your pain, resist the temptation to “humanize” your God. Remember, His ways are not our ways. They are, in fact, so much higher, so much bigger than ours. We might not like to consider that God has ordained pain for us, but truthfully, at times He does.
And that’s ok because we can trust Him with it.