January 3, 2017

Trusting When It Hurts

Pain and suffering is one of the hardest obstacles people face.

Kristina Penny

I recently edited a short documentary about human trafficking. Usually a video editor’s job is to put together significant parts of a video interview in order to tell a story in the most powerful way. As I listened to the victims talking on tape, I was touched by every word of their hours-long interviews. The pain conveyed in their stories gripped my heart to the point I had to wonder: How does God stomach what’s going on in this world?

As I child, I grew up learning about the great controversy, the grand stage so much bigger than each of our individual lives. I used to imagine heavenly beings, and beings from other worlds, leaning over and watching the war between God and Satan unfold on earth. I imagined them watching one stratum of the human race oppress another. I imagined their looks of horror as they witnessed lives being torn apart by seeds of greed and selfishness sown by Satan.

It doesn’t matter who we are or what our background is—something we all have in common is that we have experienced pain, whether physical or emotional. That’s why it’s no surprise that the problem of pain and suffering is one of the hardest obstacles people face when trying to sort out matters of faith and belief in a loving God. It’s an issue many of us struggled with as we went through the recent Sabbath school quarterly on the book of Job.

Many of us realize that when sin showed up in the universe, simply wiping it out at its source would have been an inadequate solution. Because then all created beings may have served God out of fear instead of love. But have you ever struggled with the thought of all of the pain that could have been spared if God had just stamped out sin at its initiation?

Yet God allowed sin to mature, even as He looked with future’s eye over all the chaos and pain that would result.

For reasons we can barely begin to understand, God knows this to be the best way out. Out there in the universe is an entire realm of beings watching and trusting that God knows what He’s doing. And it’s not just those other beings: Jesus Himself trusted His life to the plan when He chose to experience pain alongside us.

God is asking you and me to have this same trust with each painful event in our personal lives, even as He reminds us that the future He is excitedly preparing for us is better than anything we’ve ever seen, heard about, or even imagined (1 Cor. 2:9). Angels may know its goodness, but we cannot even imagine it.

If heavenly beings can trust that God knows what He’s doing, I like to think that we can too. Our ultimate happiness is worth it.

Kristina Penny is digital editor of Adventist Review.