The Problem Of Pain

2 Corinthians 11:23-30 (KJV) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

If God loves me, why am I in pain?
If God is in control of all things, then why do His Children suffer?

These are questions that all Christians eventually ask themselves. The Bible teaches that God loves us. One of the most memorized Scriptures in the Bible is:

John 3:16 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God loved us so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son.
What did God in love give to us? He gave us Christ suffering on the Cross.

If God is God, then couldn’t God have loved us without sacrificing His Son? If God can do anything then why couldn’t God have saved us apart from the Cross.

The answer is simple, and it is found in the Scripture.

God Cannot Deny Himself

We are told in 2 Timothy 2:13:

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (KJV) It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

God is faithful to His Word. God is faithful to His Nature. Can CANNOT sin, nor can He lie. God can do anything BUT sin. The Bible teaches that God is immutable, unchangeable:

James 1:17 (KJV)17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

God is LIGHT, not darkness. And He cannot change Himself. He is the Great and Eternal I AM. He is the …

Revelation 1:8 (KJV) …. Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

He is ALL MIGHTY because there is nothing that He cannot do EXCEPT SIN. He is absolutely holy – HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. He is …

Habakkuk 1:13 (KJV) … of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

Since God cannot look on iniquity the Prophet asked “why are You silent when the wicked devours the man more righteous than he?” Even Habakkuk asked the question of WHY.

The answer is in the character of God and in the character of man.

God is holy, righteous, and just. He is eternally good, and unable to do sin. God placed man in a perfect Paradise, a Holy Eden, a place without death or sickness or pain. Man I am sure had hunger pains at times, but these pains were quickly satisfied by the fruit of the trees of that beautiful Beulah Land. What a gorgeous place it must be! How wonderful Heaven will be one day where all sin is banished! God gave Adam and Eve all that they wanted or needed. But God told Adam:

Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV) …. Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Why did God give ONE RESTRICTION in Paradise? Because Man was given free will. He was made in God’s image, and after His likeness. “Male and female created He them – and they were in God’s image” (see Genesis 1:26-27). Jesus declared:

Matthew 19:4-6 (KJV) … Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God cannot change. He made man and woman, put them in the Garden, and declared to Adam “In the day that you eat of the forbidden fruit THOU SHALT SURELY DIE”. The very day that Adam ate he died – not physically, but spiritually. His sin separated him from Paradise, and from God Himself. Sin separates us from God. God cannot change, but as Adam’s children we inherit sin sin nature. This is why the Bible says:

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

There was no sin in the world until Adam chose NOT GOD. When he chose to follow the serpent’s word rather than God’s Word sin came into all of creation. God told Eve:

Genesis 3:16 (KJV) …. I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

God does not change. Women suffer in childbirth even now. Though medicine can provide drugs to ease the suffering, there is still suffering. This suffering comes to the Christian woman or the witch, the godly or the Atheist. It doesn’t matter. God placed on woman a physical reminder of sin’s taint, and that is the labor of childbirth – as well as having to raise little free will sinning children. God told Adam:

Genesis 3:17-19 (KJV) …. Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Eve’s labor before Adam sinned was much easier. She was to multiply and fill the world, and prior to sin labor was not that bad. Afterward there was pain and suffering. Adam’s labor before he sinned was easy. Though he had sweat glands he never really sweated in paradise. After sin entered into the world it brought with it THORNS and THISTLES and SWEAT and SORROW. This falls on every person, whether Christian or Buddhist, disciple of Christ or follower of satan. It does not matter. Sin brings the pain with it. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). God is unchangeable, immutable. What He decrees continues.

This is why Christ had to suffer and die. Since God cannot change, God must do as He said He would do. So Christ took our place.

1 Corinthians 15:22 (KJV)22 For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

God makes no exemptions, no exceptions. He sent a perfect Christ into an imperfect world to stand in for us. Christ – the Light of the world – came into a world filled with sin and darkness.

Why did He come? The scripture says:

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV) 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:

Jesus took our place on the Cross. So when we receive Him as both Lord and Savior then He promises to those who receive Him:

John 11:25-26 (KJV)25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Whosoever LIVETH in Me shall never die ……….…….. He is LORD.
Whosoever BELIEVETH in Me shall never die …………. He is SAVIOR.

Though our sins are forgiven, and though we have a place in Heaven, this world is yet in the grip of evil. Man was made with a free will to choose, to decide. Man (and woman – I do not leave you out) can choose to follow Christ and let Him reign in our lives, or choose to follow the flesh. It is a matter of choice.

If Paul was doing God’s work, Why was he suffering?

1 Paul Was Suffering Because Even Christians Are Sinners. The Apostle wrote this section of Scripture as he was led of the Holy Spirit. He wrote this section because he was hurt. The Apostle founded the Church at Corinth. He suffered to share the Gospel in that godless area. Then when he left that area other false ministers came into that area and taught the opposite of what Paul had been teaching. The Corinthians LOVED it. They turned from the Pauline teachings in order to follow error. The Apostle wrote:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (KJV) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Those who come in and teach:

Well the Bible spoke to a different time.
That was THEN and this is NOW.
God loves everybody and all are going to Heaven.

Do not understand the immutability of God. God does not change.

What was “marriage” in the Garden is “marriage” now.
What was “sin” in the Old Testament is “sin” in the New.
What leads to God’s wrath THEN leads to His wrath NOW.
What Dr. Spock said about raising children does not change what Dr. God says.

Paul told the Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 11:23 (KJV) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

Paul uses not his success, but his SUFFERING to prove his apostleship. The world is a fallen place. When Jesus came into this world He told His disciples:

John 12:46 (KJV) I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

The world is in darkness, in sin, in the flesh, in satan. Jesus came to transform those in darkness into light. The Bible says:

Colossians 1:13-14 (KJV) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Christians are not supposed to be in darkness, but sadly we sometimes revert to our old sin nature. We do things we ought not to do. We say things we ought not to say. We do not “imitate God as dear children”. We forget the Word:

Ephesians 5:1-6 (KJV) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

If you belong to God you belong in the Light of Christ – walk in His Light. Do not compartmentalize God. God is there at all times – and we are His at all times.

2 Paul was suffering because unbelievers are sinners. He wrote:

2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (KJV) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

The darkness does not like the light, and it never will. Paul was beaten by the Jews because they refused to believe that Christ was the Messiah. The Pharisees had Christ beaten and crucified … they will also beat and crucify those who follow Christ. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:18-20 (KJV) If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Muslim terrorists can strap on bombs and kill people and yet it is still declared a “religion of peace” by the world. Yet a Christian owned company can be attacked for not endorsing abortion or sexual sin. Why? Because anything Christian is of Christ, and Christ calls us out of the world. We are to be IN the world but not OF the world. Christ is our Lord, Heaven our home, and Love our target. The world despises the things of Christ.

He was in the world, and though the world was made by Him the world did not know Him. (John 1:10)

You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? If you would choose to be a friend of the world you become an enemy of God (James 4:4).

Father, My prayer is not that You should take them out of the world but that You would protect them from the Evil One (John 17:15).

The Apostle was under attack not only by robbers and heathen, but also by his own countrymen and family. How bad was it? We are told:

2 Corinthians 11:32-33 (KJV) In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

It was right after Paul’s conversion to Christ that he went to Damascus to speak of his conversion. We are told in:

Acts 9:22-27 (KJV) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Saul … who now preached under the name of Paul … was even rejected initially by the other Christians because of his past history. Had it not been for Barnabas, a faithful Christian missionary, it is possible that Paul would have been rejected by all. But God always provides an escape when suffering comes. God will always triumph!

3 Paul Was Suffering Because HE Is A Sinner. In the next chapter the Apostle begins to speak as to how God blessed him to see into Heaven. He said:

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (KJV)1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Though Paul speaks in the third person most commentaries say that the Apostle is speaking of himself. Why? Because he states:

2 Corinthians 12:7-8 (KJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

God let Paul look into Heaven proper, to see the glories of which we can only imagine today but will one day enjoy. With the privilege of the revelations that he received, along with his apostleship, the Lord sent “a messenger of Satan to beat him, lest he should be exalted above measure”. Why?

Because Paul is a sinner like we are sinners.

If he had received the joy of looking into Heaven without the beating from this “messenger of Satan” then Paul could have become puffed up with pride. Three times Paul asked God to remove this suffering. What was God’s answer?

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (KJV) And {God} said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

We are strong when we are fully relying on God. Suffering brings us low so that we can surrender to God, to be His conduit of Grace. Understanding that the Apostle began to stop GRUMBLING about his trials and began GLORYING in them. He said because of this I TAKE PLEASURE in infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, knowing that WHEN I am weak, THEN I am strong.

The best place to be is surrendered to the hands of Christ.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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