The Paradox of Pain

“If the first and lowest operation of pain shatters the illusion that all is well, the second shatters the illusion that what we have, whether good or bad in itself, is our own and enough for us. Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God. We find God an interruption. As St Augustine says somewhere, ‘God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.’ Or as a friend of mine said, ‘We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.’ Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness?” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain).

I think I get it. If God gave me absolutely everything I wanted and asked for, if God gave me all the comforts and toys I craved, then I would never seek Him. I would have no reason to seek God. Sadly, many times God is like the AAA that I never think about until I’m stranded on the side of the road.

I think God allows me to go through hardships, trials, pain, and suffering to remind me of my insufficiency and my dependence on God. It’s to keep me from thinking that this life is as good as it gets and is all there is. Otherwise, I’d never look beyond my own understanding and my own provisions.

Even minor inconveniences can be a way of opening my eyes to see beyond myself to the hurt of others and to God at work. I only have to be willing to see. Sometimes, it takes more, like car trouble or job stress or physical pain to get my attention.

But thankfully God is faithful even when I’m not. He’s working in me and around me even when I can’t (or won’t) see it. He’s not as prone to quit as I am and will finish what He started in me. He’s that good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.