April 12, 2015
Putting Pain Into Perspective
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ
(1 Peter 1:6‑7).
Painful circumstances, like most things in life, can be looked at in more than one way. As Christians, we ought to want to look at everything, including something as unpleasant as pain, in a truthful way. In short, we ought to want to view it as God, God’s self does, and usually this means looking at it from a wider perspective. When we’re hurting, we need to see more of the reality of the situation than the mere fact that we’re hurting.
One thing we need to understand clearly is that anyone who lives in this world, a world ruined by sins committed before we got here, is going to hurt. The experience of pain is a fact of life, an unavoidable difficulty. No one knows this more than Jesus Christ, who suffered greatly despite never having made a single bad decision as to His own manner of living. If right living protected a person from pain, Jesus would never have known pain, but not only did He know it, He knew it deeply. He was “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
Yet if pain is necessary, much of the anguish that often goes with it is not. And again, Jesus is our example. He drank deeply of the cup of torment, but even in the moments of His greatest agony, it’s hard for us to imagine Him experiencing any of the negative emotions that normally make pain so horrible for us. For example, much of our suffering comes from anger, resentment, and self‑pity. But Jesus refused to respond to pain in any of these ways, and consequently His pain was much purer. Peter, therefore, referring to Christ’s attitude toward pain, said to his fellow Christians, “Arm yourselves also with the same mind” (1 Peter 4:1).
We may find it hard to do, but it’s possible even to rejoice in the midst of pain. “In this you greatly rejoice,” said Peter, “though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith . . . may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The difference is in perspective: seeing pain against the backdrop of salvation.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.