Does God Give Us Our Pain?
Too often I have been told that this trouble, this illness, this grief, even Covid 19, is God’s gift to refine me into a better person. That makes me angry. Causing misery, pain, or hurt is not loving.
Today I offer to you my understanding of who God is and how God works.
God doesn’t give us pain, but God wants to use our troubles, our illness, our grief, to help us grow in goodness, our wisdom to flourish, our faith to deepen. God wants us to use every moment in our lives, whether happy, sad, or disappointing, to help us fan the flame of God within us. God wants to enable us to grow more and more into God’s image. It is God’s goal for us that we attain our full potential as God’s beloved child.
This is not just a matter of semantics for me. There’s a huge difference between God gives and God wants to use. Our God is loving not punishing. Our God created us as precious children. Not one of us would willingly give our children troubles in order to refine them. Why then would God, who loves us so much more than we could ever conceive.
Our loving God does not cause our pain, but in co-operation with us, God can use our pain. God did not create Covid 19 just to punish us for the way we are treating a beautiful earth, even though we may deserve punishment. For me, that’s human thinking. I believe God can lead us, push us, inspire us to learn so much as we deal with this virus. God can bring and wants to bring goodness for us as individuals and for our world out of the pandemic.
Already there has been goodness. Only a few weeks into the world’s lock down, scientists reported our polluted atmosphere was clearing, world leaders began to work together, individuals began caring more for others. Over the last four months, we’ve seen so much goodness come when people have chosen to work together, at a world level and an individual level. We’ve also seen what happens when people have chosen to ignore God and put themselves ahead of others. God has been at work. Goodness comes when we co-operate.
Now is the crunch. It’s not easy to keep caring for our neighbour who is isolated, or to keep isolating ourselves when we move from place to place. It’s not easy to wear a mask when we enter public places. I personally hate them, but I wear them. It’s not easy to continue to follow the protocol as an individual or as a nation. Most of us would like to make a different choice, throw caution to the wind. At times like this, I remember my faith. I believe in a loving God. I know God needs my co-operation not just so we can survive the pandemic, but so we can grow through it.
My suggestion is that we pray Jesus’ prayer every day, “Not my will, but yours be done.” We can also pray the entire Lord’s prayer. Listen carefully to each line as you pray. Discover that this prayer speaks to every happening of life. Try it. Pray it, think about it, one line at a time, and apply it to your life. God’s loving peace is here for you if you choose it.