By Tim Shallard

Beautiful tensions

Pain does not show a God who does not care, but a God who created us to care—just like Him!

surf board

I tried surfing one summer and had the time of my life swimming in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and reveling in the beauty of the ocean.

I realized some moments in life go beyond beauty, sitting in another realm of amazing, where you feel a sense of awe beyond the here and now. It felt as though God was sitting right next to me, tenderly giving this moment.

Yet, the longer I sat the more I started to feel the pain in my back from a day of surfing, the sunburn on my face, and the coolness of the sun setting. I began to linger on the painful side of life.

Before I knew it I was questioning, "Where is God in the pain of life?"

I know a lot of people like this. People who once believed in God but drifted away as they experienced pain in their lives or were hurt by people.

Maybe they were treated badly by a parent, or a friend, or a religious leader, and got stuck with this pain.

Then this pain pointed them towards the larger pain in the world: hunger, hurt, war, disease and corruption.

The more they reflected on the pain and suffering, the more they questioned God.

Until finally they could no longer reconcile the two stories and concluded that if God were real He would fix all of this pain.

Revelation in pain

Is this how God works? Well-known author C.S Lewis once said 'God whispers to us in our pleasure, and shouts to us in our pain'.

What I see is a God who gives us experiences of beauty—undeniable, so we cannot help but become struck by awe—leading us to conclude that the world is, at its core, good and beautiful.

Yet, this isn't how He reveals himself most explicitly. I see God revealing Himself most explicitly through our pain.

When we experience pain in the physical or emotional realm, this pain points to the larger pain – the suffering (or human condition) that connects all humanity together. We see the 'fallen-ness' of humanity that we cannot seem to escape. We long for perfection, we long for restoration, we long for salvation from it.

Within these moments we discover an aspect of God within us, we discover a piece of His divine nature bursting forth into our lives, and we discover a holy discontent within our souls.

This is one of the most pure and God-inspired aspects of our humanity. When we understand ourselves to be—in these moments—to be displaying an aspect of God within us, it is here that we see God most explicitly expressed.

Pain does not show a God who does not care, but a God who created us to care—just like Him!

We are all created in the image of God, with divine responsibilities; we can choose to listen to them, and see God, or we can ignore them and blame God.

Nietzsche says 'to live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering'. I choose to find God revealing Himself to me within the suffering.?

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