Christ in Pain

Holy Spirit painting

When the chips are down. When the rubber meets the road. When all hell breaks loose, literally. When “things don’t quite turn out.” When your life is wrecked, devastated, turned upside down. When your heart is torn into shreds and fed to the dogs. When the worst thing you could imagine… happens. How is God glorified in that?This is really a re-phrasing of the age-old question: How can a loving God allow death and suffering in His world? And although the answer to that is inestimably crucial, the answer is too much for the scope of this article. If you don’t know the answer, please, please email or comment and let me know, and I will be more than happy to explain it. Knowing this is vital, absolutely critical.

But when I phrase it this way… the question opens itself up to being rephrased again, and to really reaching into the heart of a struggle that I see many Christians battling with. A turmoil I see in the lives of people I love. So… you know who you are… this is for you. * smiles *

When everything is against me. When the world opens up at my feet to swallow me…

How do I glorify God in that?

You see how it’s connected? Think about it. God hates sin. He hates evil. He hates death, suffering, misfortune. He uses it, yes, but He doesn’t like it. It is not a part of His perfection which He wants for us (and which He will give us in heaven).

So how is He glorified in it on Earth? And as Christians, where do we fit into that? We are commanded to glorify Him in everything we do, in every circumstance. And really, if you think about it, what else should we want to do?!

So… how do we do it?

It’s hard.

No… scratch that. It’s not.

It’s impossible.

Really. It is. It is superhuman, supernatural — absolutely completely a miracle.

And that is the key. See, in our own strength we can’t glorify God in circumstances like that. We can’t do anything that would bring Him honor or praise or bless Him in any way. So… we do things we can’t do. Impossible things. It’s really as simple as that.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

What is peace?

Look at a glass of water or a still lake. Look at it… placid… smooth… unrippled. Untouched, unbroken. It is at peace.

Drop a pebble in. It breaks, the surface begins going everywhere, reacting to the stone. It is troubled.

God’s peace is this: Doing what is right regardless of circumstances.

Some people say it is freedom from harm. Which isn’t true. The Holy Spirit brings about peace, as well as troubles and harm (unless being stoned and drowned and beheaded and robbed and broken and tormented doesn’t count as harm…). If peace is freedom from harm, then He contradicts Himself. God forbid.

It might be more accurate to say that it is freedom from fear of harm. But even that isn’t true, because fear is not something you can really get rid of. It is a God-given impulse of our flesh, and we can’t rid ourselves of it any more than we can remove our need for water and food. What really matters isn’t being unfearful, but being courageous.

Courage is doing what is right despite being scared.

That is peace. It is choosing not to let circumstances control you. It is not reacting to things that happen to you — but choosing to respond instead. It is not letting your heartbreak determine what is on your heart’s throne. Doing that is impossible.

The pain is there. It will be there.

But that pain isn’t bad. Not if you glorify God in it. Then it becomes a wondrous thing.

When the very thing which is a punishment and consequence of rebellion against God brings glory to God, when imperfection blesses perfection… that is glorifying God.

So in essence, the way you glorify God in trials is simply to do what you would have done if you didn’t have trials. Make sense?

You still love. You still have joy (not necessarily happiness, though). You still serve. You still forgive. You still trust. You still pray. You still draw closer to God. You are still a little Christ, a little light of His.

And the very fact that you are doing all that while being tormented is what brings God ten-fold glory. Because it is impossible.

Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t give any Scripture references in this whole blog post. It quotes from the Bible extensively inline, refers to Scripture constantly, and is built solidly upon multiple studies of several topics, but I didn’t give any references. So, I am curious if any of you have any Scripture quotes which apply to this which you would like to share in the comments. Or even if you don’t want to share them, go ahead anyway. ;)

A comment form is right below, and you can get Scripture here: www.sir-emeth.com/bible

Have at it. :)

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12 Responses

  1. Two verses came to me whilst I was reading. One was:

    John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

    “in me ye might have peace”… “I have overcome the world”. Jesus overcame the world when he was on earth, and here He says that in Him, we can have peace because He did so. Trials do come. That is a fact. But I don’t believe it is God’s divine will for us to dwell indefinitely in these trials, because the Word says that through Jesus, we can have peace and overcome them – not simply live with them.

    The other verse that came to mind was:

    John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

    I don’t believe bad things come from God. The Bible tells us often that evil or painful circumstances come from the devil. (Circumstances like this can be from either defending our faith [tribulation] or bad decisions that cause us to wind up in trying situations)

    Jesus came to give us abundant life, and by this, I believe He meant in every area of our lives *now*, not just after we’re resurrected. I don’t think He purposefully leaves us in tormented states to teach us something. Though He can bring out the best in these situations, I believe first and foremost that the riches His Word promises us are always available for us to take and receive. And often the Lord provides a way of escape from the tribulation we get from standing firm. (i.e. Daniel)

    Wow. That got longish… Those were just a few of my thoughts, anyway. :)

    • * nods * Right, God doesn’t like bad things happening. They aren’t from Him in the sense that death, suffering, and whatnot are consequences of the Fall and the Curse, and thus from our sin. Punishment does come from Him, of course, but not all hardships are punishments.

      But I don’t believe that means those hardships aren’t supposed to be there. They will be taken away in Heaven, and God provides for us here on Earth (I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread, etc.). But peace, overcoming the world, abundant life, and all those things do not necessarily mean comfort. Far from it. Just looking at the life of Paul shows a completely different view.

      We find comfort in Christ, in the midst of troubles. We don’t just live with it, we live in it.

    • Hm… That’s a good way of putting it. Thankyou, Jay. :)

  2. That was so pertinent to everything right now, especially the part about fear. Thank you so much.

  3. Oh my… I have so much to say on this topic, since God has been teaching me a great deal about it lately. :P

    Here are a few verses about this sort of thing that God has used in my life:

    “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

    Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: Isaiah 26:3-4″

    These verses keeps coming up again and again… now they are quite firmly imbedded in my mind. When I’m not feeling that perfect peace, I stop and realize that I must not have my mind stayed on Him: so I then “turn [my] eyes upon Jesus” and remember how good He is and that He knows. It helps. Majorly.

    For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

    16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

    17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

    18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

    These verses help so much in remembering how light these troubles are compared with what we’ll get in heaven… and also help get things back into an eternal perspective.

    For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

    For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 1 Peter 3:17-18

    He suffered for us, worthless as we are: how much more, then, ought we to be willing to suffer for Him??

    When we go through various hard times–emotional, physical, whatever– also helps us to understand a wee bit of His suffering: and should turn our eyes off ourselves and onto Him in grateful adoration.

    4“Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.

    5I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.

    6According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.

    7Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:

    8I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.

    9O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.

    10I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?” Hosea 13:4-10

    Sometimes God has to do things that seem really horrible in order to get our attention back on Him and in order to help us realize how very much we need Him.

    He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

    I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

    Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

    He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psalm 91:1-4

    These verses are very comforting when you’re going through these sorts of times….

    Acts 5:41
    And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

    When our suffering is on account of the name of Christ, we should not only bear it bravely… we should REJOICE that we were counted worthy. It’s actually an honor. o.0 Very different from worldly wisdom, eh?

    There are tons more verses, I’m sure… but those are a “few” main ones. :)

    And I have lots more thoughts on the subject, but I’ve already written a veritable blog post here, so I’ll just stop there. :D

  4. [...] Piper. I have always remembered it, though, and wanted to look up all the verses for it… and this post reminded me of the list. So, here it [...]

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