Nothing belongs to us, not even our selves. Strictly speaking, we do not even own our private feelings and thoughts. The fact that God asserts his absolute ownership at this point in the book is significant for how we understand personal pain or loss. Bitter as this “pill” may be to swallow, we have to acknowledge that God doesn’t owe us a thing. Whether he gives or takes away (see Job 1:21), or even if he allows our bodies or minds to be wracked with pain, we are to praise and adore his name. This is not to say that we are necessarily to thank him for pain or calamity (though this may sometimes be appropriate). But he does expect us to praise him in spite of and through the hard times. What would it mean for us to truly live in the light of God’s absolute ownership, to live out in our daily lives the knowledge that we have been “bought at a price” (cf. Ps 24:1; 50:10; 1Co 6:20; 7:23)? And what a price!
Bestselling author Philip Yancey has delved deeply into the “problem” of pain. He addresses the quintessential human question: Where is God when it hurts? Yancey’s final thoughts from his book by the same title:
He has been there from the beginning, designing a pain system that still, in the midst of a fallen, rebellious world, bears the stamp of His genius and equips us for life on this planet.
He has watched us reflect His image, carving out great works of art, launching mighty adventures, living out this earth in a mixture of pain and pleasure when the two so closely coalesce they sometimes become almost indistinguishable.
He has used pain, even in its grossest forms, to teach us, asking us to let it turn us to Him. He has stooped to conquer …
He has let us cry out and echo Job with louder and harsher fits of anger against Him, blaming Him for a world we spoiled.
He has allied Himself with the poor and suffering, establishing a kingdom tilted in their favor, which the rich and powerful often shun.
He has promised supernatural strength to nourish our spirit, even if our physical suffering goes unrelieved …
He is with us now, ministering to us through His Spirit and through members of His body who are commissioned to bear us up and relieve our suffering for the sake of the head.
He is waiting, gathering the armies of good. One day He will unleash them. The world will see one last explosion of pain before the full victory is ushered in. Then, he will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain shall be no more.
With a friend or in a group, as the body of Christ, lift up each other’s pain and sorrows to God in prayer.