I read an interesting interview with the author Philip Yancey yesterday. He was asked how his view of pain and suffering had changed. He explained that as a young man he thought suffering was God's one big mistake but that he began to see how differently the Bible presents things:
I began to see the Bible presents things in a bit of a different way. The Bible doesn't promise that we're going to have a pain-free existence. Nowhere does it say that. I learned a new paradigm. You asked about how I've changed, and increasingly I've looked at that paradigm, that God isn't in the pain-removal business so much as God is in the pain-recycling business, or as Christians would say, the redeeming business.
The best expression of that that I know of is Romans 8 where Paul talks about how the whole planet is groaning as if in the pains of childbirth,...then he describes his own personal biography which included a lot of bad things.... Yet, as he looked back on those things, he said, "All of these things were used for my good.
When I was studying Romans 8 I came across this beautiful phrase from Dallas Willard, who said, For those who love God, nothing irredeemable can happen to you and that's the promise we can hold out to others. As I got to know people and written articles about them, especially those who go through very hard times, frankly pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed. Miracles are great - I love miracles - but they are miracles. They're pretty rare! You can't count on those! On the other hand redemption is something we can count on; it's the hope we all can cling to.
Those words: For those who love God, nothing irredeemable can happen to you really lit me up. Perhaps they do for you!