Pain is God's Megaphone
The central topic of our winter Bible Study at Simplicity over the past couple of weeks has been pursuing a more intimate relationship with God. This week, we concentrated heavily on the concept of pain, and in doing so, we asked some difficult, open ended questions: does God cause pain? If so, why? And if he doesn't cause pain, does He simply allow it? If that's the case, why would He do that? Or perhaps He'd choose for us not to feel pain, but He’s simply not capable of preventing it; could that be the case? Over the course of this study, we’ve examined scripture and discussed personal experiences of pain and suffering, and where we ultimately arrived falls in line with something C.S. Lewis once wrote - "Pain is God's Megaphone."
There are any number of moments in scripture that actually support the notion that pain is one of God’s most important forms of communication. Now, this might seem counterintuitive; in very real ways, that notion actually fights with the depiction of God that the modern Christian Church (as a whole) has put forth. Think about it - when you hear the name God, what kind of image does that evoke? A wise, old man with a long, white beard and kind eyes, right? It’s that comforting image of God, our Lord and Savior, who loves us enough to sacrifice His only Son, that we hear about over and over again in sermons, songs, and stories. Is that God? Yes, of course; however, God, as the Alpha and Omega, is bigger than that. He transcends definition. Rob Bell puts it like this - "The moment God is figured out with nice, neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God." In essence, the bigger God gets, the more powerful He becomes and the less we understand Him less, so when we look at God in these terms, we lose the perception of Him as our friend, our buddy, our pal, but we gain something so much more - we gain a God who’s big enough to extend love and grace in the most extraordinary, awesome, and perhaps counterintuitive ways! In these terms, it is entirely plausible that God uses pain as a means of communication - the question then becomes “why?”
If you’ve ever been through a divorce or experienced the death of a loved one or been through some other form of tragedy, at some point you’ve probably found yourself asking, “why, God? What did I do to deserve this?” Why do we do this? It’s not like God is some cosmic slot machine who, upon hearing our cries, will simply fix everything that’s gone awry and make us feel better right then and there. No, we do this because we know He’s there; we know He’s listening; we know He cares. He is our Heavenly Father; His name is Emmanuel - “God is with us.” We ask “why” in these moments because we simply do not understand, but the fact that we ask anything at all indicates that we know He’s there, communicating with us, trying to tell us something. It is in these moments of great sadness - the times when we’re consumed with pain and overwhelmed by grief - that we are closest to God. It is in our darkest hours, when we’re broken and suffering and at the ends of our ropes that God, whose love for His children is unfailing and infinite, is most present. Be it for a redirection or an awakening, God gives us pain so that we might know joy; after all, in God, pain never gets the last word - our suffering is a temporal.
Pain is God’s megaphone; it is His means to reach us, His children, and strengthen the relationship. With pain comes perspective, with perspective comes growth, and with growth comes a more intimate relationship with the Father. So, the next time you find yourself in a season of suffering, step back, take a deep breath, and rather than ask “why, God?” try asking “what is God trying to tell me? What is God trying to show me?”