God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.C.S. Lewis
I could hear Ruby’s voice, but I could not respond. I was in such a deep sleep it felt as though I was paralyzed. I could hear her yelling, “Dad!” “Dad!” but I couldn’t move. I had passed out on the couch upstairs, wiped out from a full day.
But Ruby kept calling my name until finally, I awoke. When I gained consciousness, I realized that my daughter was trying to alert me to the fact that a burning log had slipped out of our fire place and was filling our living room with smoke.
I was asleep and needed to be awakened. I desperately needed someone to sound the alarm before it was too late. Thank God, he gave Ruby a big, booming voice and she persisted until she got my attention.
Speaking of alarms, here’s something to consider. If we agree with the idea behind C.S. Lewis’ statement (quoted above) about pain being God’s megaphone to rouse us, then is it possible that God has been trying to get our attention lately? If God shouts through pain, is it possible that He is shouting now? Is He sounding a needed alarm?
But what if we’re not hearing Him?
To be clear, this is no way to suggest that God is the one causing our pain. There is a vast difference between God causing something and God allowing something. It is tempting but we should never make the mistake of blaming God for our hurts and losses. You probably know someone like this, who has suffered a painful loss and blames God for it.
But it’s not on Him. In reality, the world God originally created was pain-free and it was His intention that things stay that way forever. Yet, as we know, pain came barging in at the fall when Adam and Eve sinned, and the Garden of Eden became a distant memory. Now pain is a way of life. It touches everyone. And it hurts.
Yet, unbeknownst to us, God is always at work on our behalf protecting us from threats and dangers that would otherwise destroy us. Indeed, more often than not, God mercifully covers and protects us from the perpetrator of pain. But not always. In His infinite wisdom, sometimes our sovereign God let’s the intruder get past security and wreak havoc (e.g. Job, Israel, Judah, Jesus, Paul).
Even in those times, though, there’s an upside. There is always, always an upside. In the narrative of Scripture, God promises to redeem our pain and sorrow and to restore the beauty of what once was. In Jesus, the curse of sin is reversed. It was through His unspeakable pain and suffering on the Cross that the Holy One secured a hopeful and pain-free future for us once again. We suffer now, but not to the extent that we would suffer had Jesus not suffered for us, in our place. In comparison to the glorious future that He has secured for us, the pain of this world if but a prick of the finger.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.-Paul, Romans 8:18
But there’s something else good about all this seemingly pointless pain. As C.S. Lewis said, God uses pain to get our attention. Quite simply, He uses pain to wake us out of our self-sufficiency and to bring us back to the premise that life is unsustainable and unbearable without Him.
Many believers (including me) would testify as to how God has used painful circumstances to regain our attention. In other words, were it not for difficult situations and circumstances along the way, we would probably have continued in our “nap” on the couch upstairs.
“In comparison to the glorious future that He has secured for us, the pain of this world is but a prick of the finger.”
I wonder, is that where we are now? Are we taking a nap on God? Could it be that God is allowing us to encounter a whole menu of difficulties right now in order to awaken us?
And if this is the case, it appears that we are either unaware of it or in denial. For some strange reason, it seems that we’re intentionally leaving God out of this collosal crisis of ours. I mean, have you heard any leaders, officials, or influencers calling us to prayer lately? Where is the collective agreement that what we most desperately need is Divine intervention?
There was a time (as recently as 9/11/01) when the most obvious thing to do when catastrophy hit was to get together and pray. Indeed, this is the clear, historical precedent on how to best respond when life deals something devastating (e.g. Moses, Nehemiah, Washington, Lincoln, M.L. King). People (Christians especially) have always gone humbly before God in prayer to lay out the situation. Before asking for deliverance, they would confess their offensive and idolatrous ways and seek realignment with God.
That’s what folks used to do in hard times and it served them well.
How about us? Will we continue on in our slumber, or will we awaken?
Meanwhile, God shouts.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.