A Purpose for Pain

Matthew 16:21-23
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Isn’t that often our first reaction? “No, I don’t want anything bad to happen to those I care about.” But this was God’s will. This was Jesus’ whole purpose for coming. It was suffering, and indeed great suffering, but it was necessary for God’s plan. And Jesus was willing to go forward into that. He would not be hindered by friend or foe.

Obviously that’s a different situation than what we face in our lives. None of us are the Son of God and the lynchpin of the whole plan of salvation as Jesus was. But we do all have a purpose from God. He does have plans for each of us. And sometimes that involves very difficult things—times of suffering and loss, trials and challenges. And God has a purpose for those things. But often, there we are like Peter saying, “Let it not be so.” We don’t want those we love to suffer, and that’s a sign of our love and concern. But sometimes that can get in the way of allowing God to work in something that is, in that moment, beyond our understanding.

After the resurrection of Christ, after the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them, after it was all said and done, the disciples could look back on Jesus’ crucifixion and see how necessary it was, and they surely would have never spoken out against it knowing all of that. We don’t know the future that God has for some of the things that come into our lives and the lives of those we care about most. But may we never hinder the plan of God in someone’s life simply to spare them something unpleasant or painful. May we always desire to see God’s will come to pass despite what it may entail. May our focus be on God and what He wants to do more than what we want to happen.