Theology Impacts a Woman Experiencing Chronic Pain

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889062_jesus_windowThe Bible, God’s revealed word, doesn’t give just one answer for the question of why there is suffering (pain). H.L. Willmington’s list gives 25 answers.[1] And it is possible there are more. The list of 25 Reasons for Suffering infers that one, none, or a combination of reasons could explain the “why” question. But there is no specific way to determine which answer (if any) belongs to which questioner.

God, through the prophet Isaiah, doesn’t apologize for this confusion. God’s ways are at times unfathomable and make no sense. (See Isaiah 55:8, Isaiah 45:7.) God declares that He is the Creator and thus has the right and power to do as He plans. (See Isaiah 40:25-28.) Therefore, God does not owe me or anyone else an explanation for why we suffer from pain whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual.

This finite list of reasons should not be used to explain or excuse an infinite God’s reasons for why He might allow, permit or cause suffering to occur. But many women do this. However, since a woman’s theology affects her pain[2], just like her thoughts and feelings also affect her pain (and thus her quality of life), it is necessary for a woman in pain to struggle with and come to a peace about theodicy (the problem of evil).[3]

“For me theology only becomes an issue if someone is trying to claim that it must be the result of sin & is therefore a judgment of God. I believe the life of Job & the “thorn” Paul experienced are in direct Biblical opposition to such legalism.” Connie

 Since God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent and still allows, permits or causes evil (which have a variety of views attached to it), how does a woman in pain deal with these dichotomous positions? The Bible does not give a distinct black-and-white answer. Theologians throughout the centuries have debated this issue with no resulting satisfactory, unified opinion. But the Bible does depict people in pain and what they did with it.

So it appears that the why question is the wrong question. The question that can be answered in Earth-time is how one gets through pain well. The classical chronicle of Job and his many catastrophic sufferings doesn’t answer the why[4] but the how. Job acknowledges that God is good and has the right to send trouble.[5] And yet he still struggles with God over the pain. The later chapters of Job show (through God’s own words[6]) that God is omnipotent and omniscient. This recitation of God’s history corrects Job’s misunderstanding of God. Job concedes that he ignorantly questioned God’s wisdom and that God has knowledge he never will.[7]Job’s struggle with theodicy results in a deeper relationship with God.[8]

“It’s comforting to know two things. 1. Jesus experienced pain of unimaginable severity so He understands. 2. There will be no pain in Heaven.” LS

Paul’s many sufferings have not been described with the same detail as Job’s. But enough description is shared to show his life was filled with much physical and emotional pain. 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 says Paul went through the following: 

  • Five times received 39 lashes (these were meant to kill a person)
  • Three times beaten with rods
  • One time stoned (also a death sentence)
  • Three times shipwrecked – spent a night and a day in the open sea
  • In danger from rivers,  in the city, in the country, at sea
  • In danger from bandits, own countrymen, Gentiles and  from false brothers
  • Known hunger and thirst and often gone without food

 Paul was a mighty man for God and did much to advance the Kingdom of God. Paul suffered for his single-minded approach to life.[9] God could have protected Paul from these assaults and dangers and yet He didn’t. God could have healed the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul asked three times to be removed. But He didn’t.[10] At some point Paul dealt with theodicy.

Paul’s Romans 8:18-39 could have been that answer and written for a woman in chronic pain. Paul’s theology gave him encouragement when discouragement and pain were high, a reason to keep on keeping on.

  • There’s no comparison with the present suffering to Christ’s 2nd coming.
  • All creation is subject to the curse but one day we will experience freedom from death and decay and receive new bodies.
  • It’s ok that Believers long for their bodies to be released from sin and suffering.
  • While suffering on earth, the Holy Spirit helps the Believer in their weakness partly through prayer.
  • God causes all things to work together for good for the Believer.
  • God has a plan for Believers that will come to pass.
  • God does not condemn the Believer, why should Believers care if a person does?
  • No person or spiritual being can ever separate the Believer from the love of God.

” Some answers will be helpful to those who search for understanding; some will not. Some will ring true at one time in a person’s life, but not at another. There will be times when no solution is forthcoming and one can only pray for the faith that is able to turn unanswered questions over to God.”[11]

 Think about it. What is your position on God and the problem of pain? How do your answers impact your life?

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  • 1 out of 3 People Suffer from Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
  • Looking Fine & Still in Chronic Distress
  • Feelings & Thoughts Affected by Chronic Pain
  • 4 Ways Grief Has Changed My Beliefs
  • Loss Leads to Depression
  • This Grief Attitude Annoys Me
  • Dozen Ideas to Move Past the Blah’s

  • [1] Willmington, H. L. Willmington’s Book of Bible lists. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1987. (Logos software)

    [2] If a woman believes that God is mean or powerless, she is likely to have emotional distress. This distress leads to more pain.

    [3] The most helpful minister, counselor, friend will have done this work before counseling a woman in this area.

    [4] By this I mean that Job and those around him did not know why the events were occurring.

    [5] See Job 2:10.

    [6] See Job 38:1-42:6.

    [7] Job 42: 1-6

    [8] Job 42:5

    [9] See Philippians 1:20-22.

    [10] 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

    [11] Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s Bible Dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.) (997). San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987. (Logos software)

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    5 Ways to Know When Pain Is Chronic Asking Questions During Chronic Pain

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