Like a Child in God’s Presence
A Father who allows pain and suffering
Why did you allow this to happen, Lord?
When I hear testimonies from other Christians about the breakthroughs and victories they’ve had, it gives me assurance that God can do impossible things. We love great stories of victories and triumphs, demonstrating how God is mightily moving even in impossible circumstances.
A business with debts amounting to millions going debt-free. A person with stage 4 cancer going cancer-free. Stories of marriage restoration, household salvation, and many more.
What seems impossible becomes possible because of God. And maybe that’s what makes a good and powerful testimony. Partly, because without the problem or challenges, without the need for breakthroughs, it’s just a story, right?
But I’m sure there’s also a point in our Christian walk where we asked this question:
“Lord, how did I get into this kind of situation? I have done everything I can to prevent this from happening, and I trusted that You will do the things I can’t do, that You’ll be there to catch me when I fall, and when I fail You’ll be there to help me. So how come I’m in this situation in my life?”
When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be disciplined nor corrected. I didn’t want to be corrected, because I always thought that I was right and what I was doing was good for me. But the main reason I hated being corrected was that it was painful.
And because I hated that feeling of being corrected, I had countless temper tantrums. My aunt and grandmother then would say, “Will you stop crying?!,” and then they would lock me in their comfort room (which was not comforting at all) until I stopped crying.
The most memorable correction and discipline for me was when my mom hit me with all her might with a thick leather belt on my butt! Yeah, that hurt a lot, and I forgot what I did wrong (ironic), but what I do remember was thinking, ‘Don’t mess with your mom.’
I received discipline and correction back then from women. (And I’m thankful for the strong women God has placed in my life). But I never experienced being corrected by my dad. Never felt the warmth and the tough love of a father.
Maybe that’s the reason why God’s correction and discipline were so foreign to me.
There are situations or events in my life that made me question God’s sovereignty.
Isn’t the thought that it was God who allowed the problems — the pain, the suffering, the need for a breakthrough — a cruel thing? Isn’t it unfair?
How can a loving and sovereign God allow painful events to happen to His people? That’s my way of thinking, but it’s a one-way perspective.
That was my view, and a religious one at that. The truth is, as God’s children, we are also subject to His discipline, most of the time painful, but ALWAYS beneficial.
In solving a relational conflict, we need to see the bigger picture, and different perspectives. When I realized that, I saw the bigger picture on why He allows what He allows:
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’” (Hebrews 12:5–8, NLT)
God’s affirmation to me is: “I will allow things to happen in your life to reveal My purpose, and to bring you into My presence.”
He will put us in situations that are both joyful and painful to mold us and shape us, to match our calling. That is, to lead us to an intimate relationship with Him.
Our parents may have good plans for us, and we have plans for ourselves as well, but God’s plans and His purpose are always better. Just like how He allowed Jesus to suffer on the cross, He allows us to experience trials to prune us, to help us mature and grow.
The Experiencing God devotional puts it this way:
“If you become bitter over your hardships, you close some parts of your life from God… Don’t resent the suffering God allows in your life. Don’t make all your decisions and invest everything you have into avoiding hardships. God did not spare His own Son. How can we expect Him to spare us? Learn obedience even when it hurts.” (Experiencing God Day-by-Day)
He will allow you to experience hardships and pain so that you may learn how to enjoy His presence in every situation.
“The greatness of God’s majesty is exalted when you’re satisfied in Him more than anything, especially when you’re suffering.” (John Piper)
If that’s the case, then I’d rather feel a thousand sufferings than to be without His presence. To experience God no matter what I’m going through is a strong hope to hold on to. In the book Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence said:
“Sometimes I considered myself before Him as a poor criminal at the feet of his judge. At other times I beheld Him in my heart as my Father, as my God. I worshipped Him the oftenest I could, keeping my mind in His holy presence and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I made this my business, not only at the appointed times of prayer but all the time; every hour, every minute, even in the height of my work, I drove from my mind everything that interrupted my thoughts of God”
God is sovereign, and He will never fail to give us grace and mercy in every situation. As Brother Lawrence said:
“God will always give us light in our doubts when we have no other design but to please Him.”
God allowed pain in my life so that He could treat me like a son disciplined by his good Father. This is how intimate God can be! He will make an effort to teach us so that He may give us the best.
God has been so patient with me, and with you. As our Father, He wants to bring out the best in us. That’s why correction and discipline are necessary.
What pain creates in our lives are beautiful stories and testimonies of how God has been so patient and gracious to us.
My friend says it perfectly:
“A wound gives pain, but scars tell stories.”
If you feel God’s discipline is painful now, you have to wait until God reveals His wonderful story for you, and with you.
Endure the process. Enjoy His presence.
Originally published at Enduring Generation — Running the Race, to See His Face (wordpress.com)