Friday, September 11, 2009

Why Can't We be Friends?

"For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow."
~ Ecclesiastes 1:18

I think, if we tried, we could learn a thing or two from pain. Maybe, if we viewed heartache, not as an enemy, but as a friend, we might be able to use pain/suffering to our advantage. You see, when pain is viewed as an enemy, it's viewed as something that must be destroyed. The most common response to pain that I hear is explanation. When someone is hurting, we try to offer them information and knowledge, thinking that this will help. We think that if we could just list the top ten reasons why God allows pain and suffering, the pain itself will be destroyed.

It is my belief that knowing the why of suffering does not ease the pain of suffering. When a child experiences pain after touching a hot stovetop, we want to ease their pain (and this is natural). How tragic, however, if all we've learned is how to ease pain, but we still haven't figured out not to touch the hot stovetop. Pain is an indication that something is wrong - so we had better stop trying to ease the pain, and start trying to figure out what went wrong. But don't always expect the pain to go away - it might not, and that's ok - maybe pain can be your tutor, or better yet - your friend.


  1. I understand James 1 as teaching us to ask "How?" instead of "Why?" when we suffer.

    2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
    5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:2-5, ESV)

    In other words, "Dear God, Please give me wisdom so that I can know how to correctly respond to this pain. Please show me HOW to respond so that I may pass this test and glorify You." Easier said than done... Since James 1 teaches that this is a correct response to suffering, maybe it would be better to try to comfort one another by telling others that we will pray that God will give them wisdom and show them how to respond, and pray for them.

  2. "When you have loved and lost, trust that God's ways are just."

    (Piper, I think)