Our Character – No Pain, No Gain?

Recent road trips have given me enough time to finish Know Why You Believe, as well as three fiction works that have been gathering dust on a bookshelf since last summer.  Not much writing, though.  The scales will tip in the other direction next week when Spring Break is over and the kids go back to school.

The final chapters of Know Why You Believe addressed the following questions:  Do science and scripture agree? Why does God allow suffering and evil? Does Christianity differ from other world religions? is Christian experience valid?

These chapters were all interesting to me, but I found my mind settling on the chapter about suffering and evil.  The chapter proposed several logical explanations for the abundance of suffering and evil.  The first problem is humanity and free will.  God created us so that we could make choices on our own (otherwise, the book points out, we would be like programmed robots.)  Simply put, we often make bad choices.  But, this doesn’t explain everything.

Other times, God allows us to suffer in order to build our character.  He sees something in us that can only become stronger through suffering.  (It makes me think of muscle soreness after a strenuous workout and how builds muscle.  Although, I have to confess that my muscle growth is stunted, as I generally avoid such workouts J)

Another interesting aspect addressed is evil, and Satan himself.  I admit that I’ve often wondered why God doesn’t just get rid of Satan, since God is so much more powerful.  The book explained that one day, God will eradicate evil – ALL evil.  (Unfortunately, that means us, too.)  It does make sense that he can’t pick and choose which evil to end. 

I haven’t killed anyone, but in my life, I have stolen, said hurtful things, cursed, and lied (very poorly.)  It seems reasonable that there isn’t a ‘safe zone’ of sin that will give us a free pass when God does eliminate evil.  But, God already thought of that and sent Jesus.  It’s up to us to ask forgiveness.

Suffering

I may drop to my knees,

But will carry on.

I trust He will not crush me,

But make my spirit strong.

When I think it’s too much,

And plead for relief,

He may decide it’s not enough –

His plans are bigger than me.

How do you approach pain and suffering in your life?

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20 thoughts on “Our Character – No Pain, No Gain?

  1. Desi March 20, 2011 / 5:40 AM

    We learn best through the experience of pain and suffering. The Lord’s hardship when he was on earth is to show us that the road to heaven is truly narrow and all must go through similar sufferings that he had. I felt so much comfort because he’s actually saying “I know the road that leads to heaven is not easy, it will involve so much pain. But it’s the only road that will bring you home. See? I’ve gone through it before you, I, your Lord and Saviour had gone through it to make it easier for you”.

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 2:18 PM

      I like how you worded that, Desi. It’s true that the road is narrow and difficult, but our faith will help us along.

      I’m glad you stopped by today and shared your thoughts on suffering!

  2. Aligaeta March 20, 2011 / 6:43 AM

    I’ve always found for what I have endured there was a purpose: not only has it made me a stronger person, but it has enabled me to put others needs before myself, to be supportive and comforting in their time of need.

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 2:30 PM

      Sometimes it’s hard to recognize it while I’m going through the suffering, but it does serve a purpose. Many times, I don’t see it until I’m on the other side, but it does force me to grow. Thaks for stopping by and sharing your experience with pain & suffering, Aligaeta.

  3. 1959duke March 20, 2011 / 7:44 AM

    There is a purpose in suffering. At the time its often hard to figure out why it is happening. In some cases it takes many years.

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 2:36 PM

      You are so right, Duke. If we’re lucky we are able to finally recognize ‘why’ at some point.

  4. Tori Nelson March 20, 2011 / 11:44 AM

    Love duke’s comment. There is a lesson behind every experience, bad ones included! The biggest change/progress I’ve seen in my life has always come after a lowpoint 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 2:44 PM

      I’ve found the same thing, Tori. I wonder if it’s because when we’re so low, we are more open to intropsection?

  5. Debbie March 20, 2011 / 12:23 PM

    My late father, who spent the last three years of his life battling cancer (and everything that went with it), told me, “There’s enough pain and misery in this old world for all of us.” And he was right! I’ve heard it explained that that’s why God in His mercy banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after they’d sinned — the Garden was a place where they could live forever, and He didn’t want humankind to have to live forever in a “fallen” state. By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice, we become right with God and heirs to the Kingdom!

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 2:51 PM

      I’m sorry for your father’s suffering. He was wise when he recognized we will all have to endure pain at some point. I’m glad that we don’t have to endure this life forever and that Jesus sacrificed his life for us.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Debbie!

  6. suzicate March 20, 2011 / 3:32 PM

    We gain much through trial and tribulations…they shape us into who we become. Excellent thought provoking post.

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 4:37 PM

      You’re right, SuziCate. Surviving difficult times brings a sense that we’re stronger than we realize. I’m glad you liked the post 🙂

  7. Carol Ann Hoel March 20, 2011 / 4:43 PM

    I like your candid observations. Believers possess the righteousness of God. When Jesus paid for our sins, he gave believers his righteousness. He bore our sins and gave us his righteousness. The Psalmist said, “Blessed is the one to whom God will not impute sin.” Jesus paid it all. He is your righteousness. You will not be destroyed. 🙂 You are the righteousness of God in Christ. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 8:06 PM

      Thank you for your supportive words, Carol. The gift of Jesus’ sacrifice is almost too much for my mind to comprehend. Simply amazing…

  8. Patty March 20, 2011 / 8:56 PM

    I read something recently that people try to avoid pain and suffering by doing everything in their power to prevent it. I have done that. I have been miserable and lived every minutes of that misery (in high school). Several years ago I was miserable and avoided it by pretending it didn’t exist. I finally realized I couldn’t move on until I faced it head on. They I found the coping skills to deal with it.

    • jannatwrites March 20, 2011 / 9:23 PM

      I hadn’t thought too much about what happens if we avoid the challenges. It’s interesting that you were, in a sense, forced to deal with the misery before you could continue with your life. I am glad that you faced it, gained coping skills and were able to get through it. Thanks for sharing your experience, Patty!

  9. Barb March 21, 2011 / 7:13 AM

    I stopped trying to blame someone, anyone (including myself). I know things happen for a reason, the good and the bad. And that sometimes there’s good behind the bad – see the fight for freedom of young people in Arab countries, ready to die to achieve a major good…

    • jannatwrites March 21, 2011 / 7:18 PM

      Skipping the blame game is the healthier way to go (in my opinion.) I agree that bad doesn’t always have to be bad – great example you gave, by the way. Thanks for stopping by, Barb 🙂

  10. Momsomniac March 21, 2011 / 11:07 AM

    My take on suffering: The will of God is not mine to know. If I tried to figure out “why”, I’d go mad.

    Science and faith – I am a BIG fan of the scientific method. I am offended by bad science. But (for me) faith is defined as “belief in the absence of proof”. And I have Faith that needs no proof.

    I love your thought provoking posts as much as your funny prose!

    • jannatwrites March 21, 2011 / 7:42 PM

      I know that trying to figure out why can drive a person crazy, but sometimes I can’t help analyzing it (this should explain a lot about me :))

      I like your definition of faith. There is some evidence that suggests God’s existence, but it cannot be proven through scientific methods.

      Thank you for the huge compliment on my posts, momsomniac – I really appreciate your support 🙂

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