Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
One of the lessons from the scripture today may be one we do not particularly want to hear. Before the resurrection, there is a cross. Good Friday comes before Easter. The hard lesson for today is sooner or later, life will involve us in real pain.
The gift nobody wants! The symptoms of pain and illness are not the same thing. The illness exists long before the symptoms of pain. The feeling of pain can be the beginning cure of the illness. The fact that they are unwanted makes them even more a phenomenon of grace— a gift of God to initiate self-examination and repair. M. SCOTT PECK
C.S. Lewis The Problem with Pain
From the loss of his mother at a young age to the untimely death of his wife Joy, Lewis experienced pain as God’s megaphone, as he says, to rouse a deaf world. Pain leads us somewhere – to something. That something is a life of faith. Just as there is importance placed in a strong rope when you’re dangling from a precipice, faith is the only way to pull ourselves out from a life of desperation, a life of anxiety and need, a life of doubt and insecurity.
But how can faith be present if we don’t realize we need something beyond our own person? How do we believe unless we recognize how frail our efforts have become to maintain everything just so?
Lewis says that we must understand our fallenness. He interprets the fall of humanity not only as an opportunity for evil to thrive, but also the choice to ignore the purpose of pain. Christianity creates the problem of pain because it provides hope for righteousness and love. Without the revelation that God loves us, the painful world would make sense. Pain would have no cause. Let’s face it: it’s much easier to dismiss God or to regard him only as an airman regards his parachute, as Lewis says, there only if he needs it but he hopes he never does.
When we run headlong into God, Lewis contends that pain is demanded. Why? “How impossible it is to enact the surrender of the self by doing what we like,” he says. The truth is that at the heart of God’s love is a suffering Messiah and followers who take up crosses and follow in like fashion.
“If I knew any way of escape I would crawl through sewers to find it,” Lewis writes. “I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That is what the word means. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made “perfect through suffering” is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.”
The Power of Pain
I Peter 5:10 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.”
Paul’s thorn in the flesh helped him remember that he was still human walking in the flesh. II Corinthians 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
Birth – physical and spiritual – requires pain.
Physical – John 16:21 “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembered no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”
Spiritual – James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Eternity for the Saints, no more pain.
Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”