As a Grace Focused Optimist I face life with The Christian Attitude of optimism that my life is a grace G.O.O.D.—a God orchestrated opportunity for development, disposition, and doxology.

In the last two posts we’ve examined the truth that O is for Orchestration by answering the questions “Why do bad things happen to Christians?” and “How can God love us yet subject us to pain?”. Now, we turn our attention to the question, “Does the Bible really teach that one of the ways God shows us he loves us is by subjecting us to pain?”

One of God’s BEST Love Languages

Listen to many Christians and you’ll think God’s love and our pains are antonyms. Like fun and surgery. But God’s thoughts aren’t our thoughts. Especially when it comes to his love and our pains. The Bible teaches that our pains are God orchestrated evidences and effects of his love. According to the Word, pain is one of God’s BEST love languages.

The Bible demonstrates that pain is one of God’s BEST love languages in two ways.

First, the Bible demonstrates that pain is one of God’s BEST love languages by what it says. Take this single sentence: “The Lord trains those whom he loves, and he scourges everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6, my translation). Notice here the severity, source, and motive of the pain we sometimes experience.

The severity of the pains we sometimes experience is underlined in the metaphorical word “scourge.” Scourging involves having your back lacerated to the bone by repeated lashings with a whip. Agony is an understatement for what victims felt.

The source of the pain is God himself. “He scourges.” The scourging whip is wielded by our heavenly Father.

The motive for the scourging is God’s love. It’s those “whom he loves” that he subjects to this pain.

So, our Father himself tells us that his love and our pains are not incompatible but linked by cause and effect. It’s because he loves us (cause) that he subjects us to pain (effect). Human reason, wisdom, and preference may not like this. But it’s truth. And it’s the first analgesic the Bible gives us to help us manage our painful experiences. Our Father says all our pains ultimately come from him.

Secondly, the Bible demonstrates that pain is one of God’s BEST love languages by what it shows. As candidly as a good doctor telling a patient about to have open heart surgery that he’s going to be discomforted, the Word makes clear that God subjects those he loves to severe pain.

He “scourges everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6). The 4-F exemption keeping many from the pains of WW II military service isn’t available to the Lord’s soldiers. Just the opposite. We find as we read his word that he subjects some of his best loved men and women to “Saving Private Ryan” kinds of heartaches. I give two examples.

1. Job. God esteems Job so much that he brags about him to Satan. “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him” (Job 1:8).

Yet God subjects this prized child to horrors so unspeakable that he becomes the poster child for suffering. God’s love language with Job included pain.

2. The Lord Jesus. This One of whom the Father says, “This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well-pleased” (Matthew 17:5) is the One described as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

Jesus suffered because of misunderstanding by his family, maligning and misrepresentation by his enemies, Satanic pressure beyond any we experience, and, finally, the most painful death ever experienced on this earth.

While the devil and evil people were involved, the ultimate cause of his griefs was his Father: “He who did not spare his own Son” is Paul’s description of Jesus’s public ministry of temptation and rejection culminating in his hanging naked on a cross in the midnight darkness of God’s wrath. God’s love language with Jesus included pain.

Love and Pain

Since God both says and shows in his Word that pain is one of his love languages, we shouldn’t be surprised or stupefied when his orchestration of our lives includes pain. We shouldn’t be caught off guard or made to grieve as those who have no hope no matter how severe our pain.

Why not? Because pain is one of God’s BEST love languages.

“O” is for orchestration—God’s always the One dealing with us in a loving way, even when we’re hurting.

In our next post we’ll answer the question “How can pain be an expression of God’s love?”

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