Faith Theology

The Problem With Pain

I have been studying the Old Testament since late last year and granted that it has numerous lessons, a moment that stands out to me is when Moses addresses the Israelites after they have gone through 40 years in the wilderness. In Deuteronomy Chapter 8 v 3 Moses explains to them:

“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (ESV).

“And he humbled you…”

The way the sin of pride works baffles me. I’m thinking Israel, you cried out to God in despair –” and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help…“, God heard and miraculously delivered you and yet you became proud (Exod. 2.23)? However, I identify with Israel as I too have the tendency to be proud even in the light of all the miraculous ways of God (one phrase – the Fall of Man). Nonetheless, God humbled them as was necessary. I have recently gone through a humbling period. My years subsequent to High school have been a blur. I went through the motions of University as I tried to make do with a University and Course I did not want. Amidst this, I burnt out spiritually and low-key became the prodigal daughter I never thought I would ever become. Thereafter, I tried to make the most of life as a university graduate but it was to no avail. The reality is, my life did not turn out the way I dreamt it would and I was crushed. I have literally been brought to a place of ultimate surrender and dependence as I have come to realise I am simply not in control. Yet still, pride is a sin I battle to kill daily as – “… he gives more grace, therefore, it says ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ ” (Jam. 4.6).

The Sovereignty of God

The sovereignty of God is a complex doctrine but regardless of how one perceives it the point here is, God in his omnipotence is the one who humbled and allowed the Israelites to hunger. The story didn’t end there though! The hunger was the discipline for their pride and following the disciplinary period God fed them with manna, which they did not know, nor their forefathers (Deut. 8.3). So yes, God undoubtedly cares about our physical needs and he satisfies them as he sees fit but let us not misunderstand; we ought not to merely seek God for the physical benefits. The primary reason God fed the Israelites with miraculous manna was so that “he might make you [them] know that man does not live by bread alone…” (Deut. 8.3). Let us therefore soak in God’s miraculous provision of manna with the caution of Jesus in the Gospel of John whereby he rebuked the crowd he miraculously fed, declaring – “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life…” (John. 6 .26 -27.)

“…But man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

I am thus inclined to believe that God was even more concerned about Israel’s sanctification through the knowledge that “… man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”(Deut. 8.3). Looking at the bigger picture, since man lives by obedience to the word of God and every human being falls short of this calling, the sanctification of mankind came at a greater cost to God; when he, in his love for the world determined the suffering and death of Jesus Christ his only begotten Son, the Bread of life through whom we are reconciled to God.

The Problem with Pain

It is tempting to not see the goodness or love of God in suffering. I wondered why someone who loves me would allow me to go through so much pain when he can sovereignly take it away. Often, I felt like the Canaanite woman who likened herself to a dog begging Jesus for crumbs while all the other children of God around me had their fill. But if ‘crumbs’ are what I need to sanctify me at that moment – that is what God will give me. That is, alongside his living Word through whom I am sanctified and attain eternal life. So let us consider the lesson embedded in the momentary cup of affliction that is preparing us for eternal glory.

So let us consider the lesson embedded in the momentary cup of affliction that is preparing us… Click To Tweet

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1 Comment

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    May 23, 2017 at 7:28 am

    This was so lit. Thank you for this post.

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