What is God’s purpose for humanity? If it is to bring us into relationship with Him, how can He do that when we tend to be so rebellious? Is it possible He uses the pain in our lives to bring us to a realization of our need for Him? Does God use, and even at times, inflict difficulty in our lives to achieve His purpose?
What we may experience as a difficult situation at the time may turn out to be a time when God used us the most. God says in our weakness He is strong. All through scripture, many of the godliest people had to endure extremely difficult situations. I think about Hosea, and how God told him to marry a prostitute, even though God knew that she wouldn’t be faithful. Is it possible that God can actually place us into situations that many would view as painful and even wrong, for the purpose of glorifying Himself or teaching someone else? In the case of Hosea and Gomer, God was providing a real life example of His relationship with Israel.
For me, it is very freeing to think of God as bigger than our pain, and when I’m experiencing pain, to know that I am never outside the will of God, even in the midst of torment. God may not remove that pain immediately, even when dealing with someone of great faith, in order to achieve His purpose, which may only be revealed to us when we see Him face to face. Until then, true faith is the ability to say in the midst of pain, “You are God, and I will trust You!” I believe that’s what Christ said when He prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Being God, Christ new what God’s will was, and that He had to endure suffering to achieve God’s ultimate plan.
When Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, God convicted him, and even made him blind so that he would completely depend on God’s guidance to lead him to Ananias, and be healed and anointed by the Holy Spirit. After Paul spent his energy persecuting the Christians, God took drastic measures to stop Paul and use him for His glory. I imagine traveling blind would have been an incredibly uncomfortable experience for Paul, not to mention being convicted of opposing God when all the while Paul thought He was doing the will of God. In that case, God could have made Paul’s conversion more comfortable, but He found it necessary to make Paul depend on Him. It appears as though God did not give Paul much of a choice in the matter.
Now, I realize all of what I am saying can simply be responded to with the argument that God just uses the bad things that happen to us, and doesn’t actually cause those bad things to happen. I guess one has to decide what they believe God is capable of. If the decision is that God is not capable of bringing death and destruction upon His creation, take a closer look at scripture, and you will find that God’s wrath is just as common as His mercy, and His ultimate and final act of wrath will be when He destroys His enemies once and for all. As Romans 9:20 says, who are we to question God?
Finally, I’d like to bring a bit of balance to this matter. It is our responsibility to pray for and take care of those in need. It is not our responsibility to determine whether or not a person is enduring pain as a part of God’s plan, or to try and determine what God’s plan is in that situation. God calls us to take care of those in need, pray for their well-being, and trust that God will take care of them.