In his book The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis observes that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Suffering often helps us to redirect our focus. It shifts our thinking from immediate circumstances so we can listen to God concerning His work in our lives. Life as usual is replaced by a spiritual schoolroom.
In the Old Testament, we read how the psalmist maintained a teachable heart even during painful circumstances. He accepted them as orchestrated by God, and in submission he prayed, “In faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119:75). Isaiah the prophet viewed suffering as a refining process: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10). And Job, despite his laments, learned about the sovereignty and greatness of God through his troubles (Job 40–42).
We are not alone in our experience of pain. God Himself took on human form and suffered greatly: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). The One with nail-scarred hands is near. He will comfort us and teach us in our suffering.