Sometimes we regard God as an airman regards his parachute, it’s there for emergency but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.
An example of human pain is Abraham’s trial when he was ordered to sacrifice Isaac. This is recorded in Genesis 22. In order to test Abraham God told him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. They took a three-day journey to mount Moriah where Abraham was to offer his only son as a sacrifice to God. As Abraham stretched out his hand against Isaac; an Angel of the Lord told Abraham “I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.” There is an obvious question here. If God is omniscient He must have known that Abraham would do without any experiment; why then this needless torture? The important point here is not that God may or may not have known what Abraham would do but Abraham learned a great deal about his faith as he endured this test. Hebrews 11:17–19 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
The reality of Abraham’s obedience was the act itself in that God knew that Abraham “would obey”. It was Abraham’s actual obedience on that mountaintop at that moment. We can say that God should not have completed this experiment with Abraham that God knew in advance what Abraham would do. The important thing here is that Abraham did not know what he would do and he learned a great deal about his faith. We see a very similar thing in the story of Job. Job went through many adversities in his life lost his wealth, lost his family, and lost his health. In Job 42:5 after all of the troubles that he experienced Job made this statement to God: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” After all of Job’s adversities he understood God. He had a very clear understanding of God. Job understood that God wanted the very best for him and that he provided the very best for him.
Sometimes we do not understand what is best for us. Like Abraham and Job we think because we are suffering we are not benefiting. All suffering is very difficult. The suffering that I have gone through was difficult and after the suffering period was over I could look back and see how I benefited from all the pain. Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
Adversities cannot cease until God either sees us remade are sees that our remaking becomes hopeless. If the world is indeed a “balm for the soul” it seems on the whole to be doing its work. Those who reject Christianity will not be moved by Christ’s statement that poverty is blessed. Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If suffering is good ought it not to be pursued rather than avoided? We may apply this first to the problem of other people suffering. A merciful man aims at his neighbor’s good and so does “God’s will” consciously cooperating with “the single good”. A cruel man opposes his neighbor and so does evil. In doing such evil he is used by God without his own knowledge or consent to produce the complex good, so that the first man serves God as a son, and the second as a tool. For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose however you act but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John. If tribulation is a necessary element we must anticipate that it will never cease till God sees that we are either redeemed or no further redemption is needed. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant ends, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.