From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield

Agony 101

Pain was a way of life to the nation of Israel, as it may be with you. At times it just came naturally during their journeys in the wilderness, and then at other times, Israel dared God, through their presumptuous sins, to call His fiery serpents from their dens. The days of the Judges just scream with pain. The tears of Israel flowed like rivers during the days of Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah and the fall of Jerusalem. And unfortunately it is not over, for soon the days of Jacob’s Trouble will begin (Jere. 30:4-7).

The problems and pains of Israel are a typological picture of our individual problems and pains. So permit me to use one man in Israel as an illustration of our next thought: Preparing for Pain.

The youngest son of Jesse, as many young people do, felt small stings and hurts throughout his life, but then a day came when he faced the Goliath of major pain; a real “Excedrin headache” (I Sam. 17). You likely know the history of David and his victory that day. It came about because he faced the problem squarely. He told several people, including the king, that he knew that he could defeat Goliath, because he had other smaller victories already under his belt. He was prepared.

Our primary concern in this entire study, lies right here at this point. Everything that we have said thus far has, at its heart, the purpose of preparing you to face Goliath. For example, thinking of the last chapter, the ability of the pastor or any other servant of God to help a person through his pain will be useless effort unless the sufferer is willing or capable of receiving it. A major part of this is found in his preparation. Thus we need to think about the perplexities, predictions, perils and perversions of pain long before we actually see his ugly face.

Understand Pain

Pain can be one of the Devil’s most successful tools against us, or it can be turned against him. Such was the case with the champion of the Philistines. Goliath had crippled the army of Saul. The Israelites fled in terror at the sound of his voice. His threats sent experienced soldiers crying into their tents. But when that giant Anakim fell, so did the alien invaders.

There are still a few words that terrify people in the same way that the voice of Goliath terrified Israel. For example, when the doctor whispers the words “cancer,” “AIDS” or “heart disease” most people’s heads begin swim; they black out and a new kind of pain enters their lives. Goliath certainly hasn’t lost any size over the centuries; he is still awesome and fearsome.

It must be understood, however, that the Goliaths of pain and disease have no power over us except for what they have been granted by the Lord and by ourselves. For example, Israel could have, and should have, driven the Philistines from the Promised Land years before Goliath was ever born, but a lack of faith on the people’s part had always made them fear these Anakims (Num. 13:28) and kept them from their duties. But why such fear? Where did that giant get his strength and size? We can blame it on evolution, a birth defect, his strange diet, or whatever you choose, but the Christian knows deep down in his heart that Goliath came from the Lord.

That giant of a man was standing before Israel as a rather complicated tool of Jehovah. Depending on your point of view, he was accomplishing several things at one time: humbling Israel, humiliating Saul, promoting David, or teaching things to us today. Looking at just one of these, the eighth son of Jesse had been ordained by God, and set apart by Samuel to sit upon the throne of Israel. Goliath was simply the first step up to that ivory throne. In just the same way, pain is sometimes the tool that the Lord uses to accomplish His will in us.

To paraphrase I Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation {or pain} taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted {or pained} above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it {and use it}.”

Realize that Victory is with the Lord

David, when still a young man and before meeting Goliath, had faced pain in several forms. For example, he had earlier faced a lion and a bear as they tried to steal from his father’s flock. Even in those early days he had found strength in the Lord sufficient to overcome his problems. And like him, haven’t we all met some lions and bears? There have been tooth-aches, Grandad’s death, a broken dream, and perhaps rejection by a special friend. Like all pain, some of those have been physical and others emotional or spiritual. Why can’t we use them the way David used his, preparing us to meet our next Goliath?

David was fortunate to have had a good “pastor” of some sort. Maybe it was his father or some friendly Levite, but likely in his case it was the ministry of the Holy Spirit alone. Whichever, the son of Jesse learned that his victory over the lion and bear came by way of Jehovah.

Now that he faced the biggest challenge of his life, the young man from Bethlehem had a tested and proven confidence: “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (I Sam. 17:45-46). It was the Lord that David trusted to help him in the newest crisis of his life.

Forget about Earthly Help

When David volunteered to defeat Goliath, King Saul offered him the use of the royal armor. This was kind of ludicrous yet very common: here was a man who had no victory in his own life whatsoever, yet he was determined to “encourage” another. Actually, that encouragement was no help to the young warrior at all. It was the strength of the Lord that David needed, not any psychological or emotional placebo.

Sufferer, don’t be surprised when some day you may be laying in an uncomfortable hospital bed, and in come the relatives or co-workers with flowers, cards and pasted-on smiles. They may say such wonderful things as: “Well, just remember that it could be worse;” or, “My grandmother suffered a lot more than you have when she had her surgery.” Miserable comforters are ye all (Job 16:2). Am I to rejoice that others suffer more than I do? Take the remnants of your earthly armor and go. Give me the Lord and real comfort.

David knew where to turn: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2). “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped” (Ps. 28:7). It is a sad thing to have to admit, but suffering one, don’t count on too much solid succor from your neighbors. You must prepare yourself for even this kind of pain. Yet thank God that “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Prov. 18:24).

David had built his house upon the rock. The waves were beating down on him pretty hard there in the valley of Shochoh, but his house stood firm (Matt. 7:24-25). He was well prepared for the day of adversity. He knew the Lord.

And so must you. But do you know where to begin?

The Place to Start

Amongst all the helpful material on the subject of pain’s reduction, there is one essential ingredient that is almost universally neglected. We must go back to the beginning of our thoughts to find it:

What is the cause of pain? Sin? Although pain is not always directly produced by sin, those Siamese twins of sin and pain cannot be separated very far. There will always be pain as long as sin exists. When sin is given a free reign in your life, there will be various kinds of human affliction in you too. But even worse than this, dying under that rule of sin will mean pain for eternity. Thus the question of sin must be handled in a scriptural fashion before the problem of pain can be solved.

Dear reader, you are a sinner in the sight of God. “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecc. 7:20). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). (See also Jere. 17:9-10; Isa. 53:6; Ezek. 18:4; Ps. 53:1-3; Rom. 3:10-23; Isa. 64:6; and I Jn. 1:8.) If this sin goes unrepented in your life there can be no hope for your deliverance. Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). Indeed, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

You must realize too, that there is not a single thing that you can do personally about this situation. Not even perfect morality can help. “For whosever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). So, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall not flesh be justified (declared righteous, ie. saved) in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). (Study Gal. 2:16 Prov. 14:12; Eph. 2:8-9 and Acts 4:12.) Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom God” (Jn. 3:3), and it is in connection with this kingdom that pain will come to an end.

But yet there is hope for us, for “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). He, “who His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Pet. 2:24). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit” (I Pet. 3:18). In other words, God, thoroughly knowing our sinful condition, has provided a means for our redemption and deliverance through the person of His Son. Christ died on Calvary, as a vicarious substitute for the individual sinner, in order to deal with sin and its eternal judgment. (Study Isa. 53:6; Jn. 3:16; Acts 16:30-31; and I Jn. 5:12-13.)

The Lord Jesus Himself said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24). This should be the stuff that pain-sufferers dreams are made. (See Jn. 1:12-13; 3:36 and II Cor. 5:17.)

If the Spirit of God, whom Jesus called the “Comforter” (Jn. 16:7), brings the reality of these verses to bear on your heart, and “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). On the other hand, if the Holy Spirit is not convicting you of these eternal truths, then please read and re-read them from your Bible, studying the context in each case and begging for heavenly enlightenment. These matters are of extreme importance, and make up the beginning point in pain’s solution.

But just a word of caution: contrary to the teachings of some men, the receiving of Christ as one’s Lord and Saviour will not immediately sweep away the pains that your body may be experiencing. That ultimate redemption will not occur until you leave that body behind. Yet in receiving Christ there is given to every repentant believer, the hope and assurance of a new, incorruptible and glorious body (I Cor. 15:53-57). In that Heavenly body pain will be a thing of the past (Rev. 21:4).

Go to Chapter Thirteen »