God, Why Pain and Suffering?
Last week I started a new fitness program called, P90X. P90X is a system of 12 workouts designed to transform your body from regular shape to excellent shape in just 90 days; so the P90X marketing states. The P90X system per their marketing ads says it uses an advanced training technique the makers of it call "Muscle Confusion," which accelerates the results process by constantly introducing new moves and routines into the workout you do each day so that your body never plateaus, and so that you never get bored of the workout program. I can tell you at this point into my following the P90X workout system that the “X” in its name really does stand for extreme. Even the ‘fitness test’ given prior to starting the program to make sure that one is in good enough shape to start P90X in itself is extreme and each workout session I’ve completed to date has been extreme!
My personal trainer in P90X, Tony Horton, is very fit and entertaining within the videos. He has a really great way of making the workout fun and keeping me going with it even when it gets tough… and believe me it gets tough. Prior to starting P90X, on my own I had been working out on a Versa Climber five or six days a week for 30 minutes each session consistently for over two years at times with a 40 pound pack on my back and climbing from 1,500 up to 2,000 feet each session. Along with this, I did on a random basis work with dumb bells, pushups, setups, with more work on a Total Gym, StairMaster, and treadmill along with yard work and other activities such as biking and hiking. After seeing a TV ad for P90X, I thought that with it, I could get myself into much better shape physically than I have ever been; not to mention its marketing is cool and thus is why I started P90X.
Remember that the makers of P90X claim that per the technique they call, “Muscle Confusion,” through its introduction of new moves and routines being used and added to each workout not only accelerates the results of you getting into shape quicker, it also says it helps you not get board of the workout program. Well, being into the program to where I am currently I can absolutely inform you that I’m already seeing progress as my blood pressure has already dropped as has my pulse rate and I’m feeling better than ever after working out. Each workout I’ve done to date has not been boring nor do I think the workouts will become boring to me because there is so much variation even within each workout session not to mention the fact that it will take me much longer than 90 days to get to the point that I’m doing most of the basic moves exactly proper so that I can move to doing the intermediate moves and then another amount of time prior to me getting to the point that I can start with any of the moves in the advanced stage. So far I am very pleased with P90X and think that I’ve made a very good long term investment into my physical fitness.
At this point you may be asking yourself something like, “What does his starting a new exercise program have to do with God, pain and suffering?” Well, let me tell you that I was suffering through some serious pain after starting P90X due to its “Muscle Confusion” confusing parts of my body that I had not been exercising and during the timeframe of when I was suffering the greatest pain, something that Tony Horton said during an exercise session clicked with me and started me thinking about the pain and suffering that exists for and is experienced by everyone in the world beyond any exercise program.
Tony said, during the P90X exercise program that I would feel beat up and that I will experience pain which must be suffered through to get to the physical results that I wanted to achieve. He went on to describe the good type of pain and the bad type of pain and why the good pain is good and why the type of bad pain is bad and he included directions in how to avoid the bad pain. He said that if the bad pain is ignored that it could cause permanent damage to my body. Tony also said only through properly using the P90X exercise program over time elevates the good type of pain’s painfulness with the payoff of enduring this good pain is that I would have a healthier and more physically fit body. Prior to each exercise session, there is a warning informing that the P90X program may not be the best exercise program for those who are not in shape enough to do P90X or have injuries which could be aggravated by P90X because it is so extreme. Believe me; this is a good warning for people to heed and as the P90X warning states, there are other exercise programs out there which may be better for you than P90X.
These statements Tony said and my suffering through physical pain from starting P90X were what started me thinking about why God lets there be pain and suffering in the world. During physical exercise programs such as within P90X, the pain and suffering experienced can lead to better physical health if the proper path is adhered. During your and my lifetime, the pain and suffering experienced can lead to an eternal life without any pain and suffering if the proper path is adhered.
Just as I have made a choice to do P90X and endure the pain and suffering I have and will encountered through its “Muscle Confusion” so that I can reap the physical benefits of my being more healthy during my lifetime, as a person who has put his faith in Christ Jesus as my savior, I know that through my choice of leaning on God’s strength and infinite knowledge during the pain and suffering I encounter in life that it will benefit me mentally and spiritually and build up my character to be more like our Lord Christ Jesus. I know this because of the sacrifice that God has done for you and me and of the pain, suffering and death that Christ Jesus endured for you and me. (Romans 5:8, John 3:16-18)
Yes, even people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their savior experience pain and suffering during their lifetime after accepting Christ Jesus as their savior. The types of pain and suffering can be just the same as people who have not placed their faith into Christ Jesus. This fact is one of the main reasons some people choose to not place their faith in Christ Jesus and accept Him as their savior. Part of the pain and suffering I have encountered includes my father being murdered.
People who do not accept Christ Jesus because of pain and suffering do not accept Christ Jesus because they do not understand (nor do some of them want to understand) the reason why pain and suffering exists. Many of these people who have not accepted Christ Jesus as their savior say that because pain and suffering exists that He does not exist. Yet it is through the free will choice to choose we have that God gave to us that we have pain and suffering.
Yes, the choices you and I make directly affect not only you and me, they affect everyone around us today and tomorrow. Just as the choices people made in the past affect you and I today, the choices you and I make today will affect people tomorrow and so on. God gave to you and me a free will to choose what we want to do. With that freewill we each have, not all of us make wise choices and God loves us so much as to not force us to do anything we do not freely choose to do and He doesn’t stop us from doing something stupid either.
The experience of pain and suffering a person having true faith in Christ Jesus as their savior has is an experience which a person without faith in Christ Jesus will not understand. Both pain and suffering hurt those who have honestly placed their faith into Christ Jesus, yet pain and suffering do not hurt in the same way a non-believer hurts with pain and suffering. The primary differences between the pain and suffering encountered by someone who truly has faith in Christ Jesus and someone who does not is that the person who has placed his or her faith Christ Jesus has hope and promise of no pain and suffering whereas the person without faith in Christ Jesus has no hope nor any future where pain and suffering doesn’t exist. The person who truly has faith in Christ Jesus also has an understanding of why pain and suffering exists while the person without faith in Christ Jesus does not know why.
People who have an honest faith in Christ Jesus know that natural evil consists of earthquakes, tornadoes, droughts, and other disasters of nature that cause human pain and suffering. The Apostle Paul said, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). And though suffering isn’t good, people who have their faith in Christ Jesus know that God can, have and will use suffering to accomplish good as in His using it to pull people to His Son, Christ Jesus. Often it is during the pain and suffering a person encounters of hitting the “rock bottom” that a person honestly accepts Christ Jesus as their savior. (2 Corinthians 7:10) C. S. Lewis perceived that, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Pain and suffering sometimes is when people who did not truly have faith in God turn away from God. (Mark 4:1-20)
People who truly know and have faith in Christ Jesus understand that personal growth in character to become more like Christ Jesus is gained through pain and suffering. The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews wrote that; “Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Seriously think about this for a moment. If Jesus, the only begotten Son of God needed to suffer while He was on earth so that He could learn, why would it be any different for you and me? Not that those who honestly have faith in God go out and seek pain and suffering; however, it is that when the pain and suffering of everyday life is encountered that those who truly know and have faith in Christ Jesus have the opportunity to grow and show their character more like that of Christ Jesus’ perfect character.
Remember too that pain and suffering is not all bad. Pain tells us that something is wrong with our body that needs attention. It tells us too that we need rest. Also, pain and suffering can help us endure and grow beyond normal capacity. Pain and suffering will happen prior to any benefit. Ask any successful business person if their business came without some pain and suffering and see what they say. Olympic athletes who will be attending the Olympic events in Vancouver starting soon will attest I’m sure that to get to the top of their sport, that many years of sacrifice and suffering along with physical pain occurred.
God in His infinite knowledge may allow a certain amount of suffering in our lives because He knows in His great wisdom, that the results achieved will be a more godly character developed within us. All good parents know that discipline is needed in raising their children, even if it isn’t something that the parent enjoys doing; a good and loving parent will properly discipline his or her child. A loving parent will discipline their children because they really love their children and have set boundaries for their children. The loving parents disciplining their children are looking ahead and seeing that the momentary pain of the discipline applied can realize positive outcomes in the future. God is our Heavenly Father and His love for you and me is perfect and through the pain and suffering we encounter here on earth the person with true faith in Christ Jesus knows that God only allows us to encounter what we can endure as we rely upon His strength and understanding. (Hebrews 12:10–11)
We are living in a fallen world due to the choice that the first man (Adam) made which was to eat of the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam’s eating that forbidden fruit brought pain and suffering upon not only Adam but to his descendants (you and me). The consequences of not following God’s request is pain, suffering and death. Most likely now you are saying, “I’ve not done anything against God to deserve pain and suffering!” Well, you are wrong because you are like me and are not perfect and being imperfect you and I do things which are against God’s requests of us. If you say that you are perfect then you are delusional and thus are not perfect and if you think you are perfect then you think you are god and thus you are truly delusional. Remember, everyone’s choices affect everyone else be those choices wise choices or stupid choices. Those choices we make which are stupid, can cause pain and suffering and can even extend the duration of the pain and suffering for not only we who made the stupid choices but also can cause and increase the duration of pain and suffering for many others.
Accepting Jesus as your savior may not take away any pain and suffering you are or will experience here on earth but you can be assured that by your honestly accepting Jesus as your savior that you will go to Heaven after you die and there is no pain and suffering there. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18) I have learned to look beyond my pain and suffering to God’s perfect plan for me and the future He has in store for me. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God sent His only begotten Son to give His life for you and me. You only need to repent of your sins and accept this fact so that you do not have to suffer pain for eternity. (John 3:16-21) Also, God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Christ Jesus took upon everyone’s sin, suffering for each and every one of us for what we do. With Christ Jesus’ suffering the pain of all of my sins including yours and everyone else’s sins, in comparison, what complaint do I have about any pain and suffering that I encounter? (Hebrews 2:9)
Yes, I’m already feeling the physical benefits of P90X as I have suffered through the initial pain of starting it and I am glad that I have made the investment into P90X as my exercise program. Lord willing, I see myself using P90X for a long time to come to keep myself in peek physical shape during my life on earth. Even better is that I know that through my faith our Lord God, Christ Jesus, that all of the pain and suffering I experience in this life is temporary and a blessing to help me become more like Christ Jesus.
My prayer for you is that you too find a great exercise program so that you improve your physical health during your life on earth and above all, my prayer for you is for your salvation.
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:13-16)
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. (Revelation 21:3-4)
 C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Macmillan, 1962), 93
You know, that in following Christ Jesus that there is no shortcut around pain and suffering. Jesus himself said in Luke 14:27 – “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Romans would led a criminal to his execution site making the criminal carry the cross on which he would be placed on to die. This was to not only display the criminal’s submission to Roman authority, it was saying to all the people who saw this that they should submit to Roman authority. As a true and honest follower of Christ Jesus, we are to carry our own cross and follow where Jesus leads us… even to death.
Truly and honestly following Christ Jesus means it isn’t something to take lightly and casually. In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Again Jesus is telling us that following Him means total submission. This kind of submission is something that many people do not want to do. In fact, at times I don’t want to do it because it is much easier just to go with the flow and take the easy path yet I know that it is my responsibility to point others to Christ Jesus no matter how rude and/or crude to me they are. In Matthew 7:13, Jesus said to, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” This means a great deal to me as Jesus also said in Matthew 7:14, “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” I do not want to be lukewarm so to miss that narrow gate because Jesus made it clear in Luke 13:24 that everyone should, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
In Acts 14:21-22, Paul and Barnabas returned to visit the people who had freshly placed their faith into Christ Jesus in all of the cities where they had just recently been threatened and physically attacked. These two men knew exactly the dangers which they faced and they still felt the responsibility to encourage the new believers in Christ Jesus. What a great testimony of courage and pure example of submission to Christ Jesus giving an example of how far we should go to help others find and accept Christ Jesus. Helping someone find and accept Christ Jesus is worth giving one’s life in doing because the love of Christ Jesus is purely perfect!
Ecclesiastes 1:12-15 “I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. — What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.”
What a powerful statement being made with, “What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.” This is referring to the ultimate perplexity and confusion that comes to us because of all the unanswered questions in life. Solomon was writing about his own life and discovered that neither his wisdom nor accomplishments could truly make him happy. True wisdom is found only in God as is true happiness only achieved through pleasing God. Pleasing God means submitting to God and carrying your own cross and doing so because you truly want to do so and giving it all you have; even if it means giving your life.
Seems everyone wants an easy answer to getting through life. Wonder why The Apostle Paul said:
Act 14:21 And preaching the gospel to that city, and having made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch,
Act 14:22 confirming the souls of the disciples, calling on them to continue in the faith and that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God.
Or What Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes:
Ecc 1:13 I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens:it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.
It is obvious that humility is of Great Importance in the life to come, and that the suffering of this life, is what stores up as Treasure for us in The Coming Ages.