Does God not care about me being in pain?

Q. Hello Christopher,
I am sorry but this is in regards to suicide. Specifically, will I be damned to hell if I have received Christ yet choose to take my own life?
I am suffering from several physical ailments. I have been seeing doctors, going for tests etc, but nothing has helped or would help. I was even denied an operation. In short, I would have to be in physical pain constantly. The pain is killing me. I feel so tired of being in pain I am considering taking my own life. I have been praying to God, to take me home, or to take away the pain, but not much has happened in regards to that. The pain has resulted in the worst of me surfacing, I find it hard to be kind and patient to others. I also wonder why does God allow me to be in constant pain when He loves me. I believe in Him and His powers but I do not know if he is willing to heal me. Some times I feel that my well being is not of any priority to him as compared to His plans. I find that hard to accept. Like I (or my pain) am a tool, for him to use in His purpose. I really do not want to think like that. Are you able to shed some light on this so that I can stop thinking of God as some one who does not care about me being in pain?

Thank you for your heartfelt questions. I do believe I can help you. My wife went through a similar experience of unrelenting suffering. She went home to heaven last year after suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for 4 1/2 years. She basically spent the last six months of her life suffocating to death. This was so painful for me to watch that I literally got down on my knees every night before bed and begged God to take her home and end her suffering. She lived much longer than anyone expected and so had to endure a greater progression of symptoms than many patients do. At the end the only muscles she could move were in her face.

But she was still using those muscles to smile. This was because, throughout her entire illness, we continually saw evidences that God loved her and cared very deeply about her suffering. I’ve written up our story in another blog entitled Endless Mercies. It begins with this post. The tag line to the blog is, “God’s mercies to you don’t end when you get an untreatable fatal disease.” We certainly found that to be true. My hope and prayer is that you would be encouraged by reading our story and that it would help you recognize in your own story the ways in which God has been showing how deeply he cares about you and your pain and suffering.

I’d also invite you to read and meditate on Psalm 88. That psalm seems to be so filled with suffering and despair that I’ve actually heard some people wonder why it’s even in the Bible:

Why, Lord, do you reject me
    and hide your face from me?

From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
    I have borne your terrors and am in despair.

But I believe this psalm was made part of Scripture in order to give a voice to situations like yours, where there is no sudden deliverance and we don’t find out in this life how it was all worthwhile. And because God has heard that voice and enshrined it within the Bible, we know that he does love and care for everyone in such a situation.

I don’t want to presume anything about personal circumstances that I’m not familiar with, so forgive me if I’m off base here, but what I’m hearing from you is not really a question about suicide, but about meaning and purpose in life. I think what you’re really after is a reason to continue living, not necessarily permission to die. And as someone who has seen firsthand a situation of desperate, unrelenting suffering, I can testify that God’s personal love and care can be experienced in such a situation. May God open all of our eyes to see where and how his hand has been at work in our lives to help us.

The purpose of your life is not somehow to display certain attributes of God’s character, or of Christian deportment, through uncomplaining suffering. You are not a “tool” in that way. The purpose of your life is to love and be loved, by God and by those closest to you. And I must say, from my own experience, that no amount of suffering can keep us from being loved by God and from loving God in return. No amount of suffering can keep us from receiving the love of those people who care for us and want to help us, and from loving them back. I believe that God has already placed some such people in your life. I pray that you will be able to recognize them and receive what they want to give you. When you do, you will be giving them a great gift in return.

Let me close with the blessing from the Bible that my wife and I used to say to one another every evening before bed. On the last night of her life, she only had enough breath to whisper out the first line, so I finished the rest:

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

 

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

3 thoughts on “Does God not care about me being in pain?”

  1. Thank you Chris. That was so meaningful and so well spoken. God has woven an amazing tapestry of life experiences so we can bless others. Today you blessed the person who asked this question and you blessed me as I read it.

  2. So much I want to say but I don’t feel free to say in a public forum. I’m okay with waiting until I meet you in eternity, and then I can tell you the whole story! 😉

    Suffice to say, God has finally answered a question that has burned in my heart for 36+ years: What am I for? “To love and be loved by God and the people closest to me.” I cannot even tell you the joy and peace I am experiencing because of this insight.

    Thank you. 🙂

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