How Can Pain Be Good?


PS 119.71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

Pain bad.? Comfort good.? I don’t know about you, but when I smash my thumb with a hammer, my first impulse isn’t to jump for joy shouting, “Yes!? That felt great!? I think I’ll smash the other one!”? I don’t like to suffer.? I want an easy life.

Yet the author of Psalm 119 says it was good that he suffered.? Was he some kind of masochist?

He doesn’t say he enjoyed suffering, he says it is good for him that he suffered.

Looking back, he says of his experience, “It is good for me that I was afflicted.”? It is good for me (NOW) that I was afflicted (THEN).? In other words, at the time, I might not have thought the affliction was good, but I can see now that in reality it was good – I didn’t enjoy it, but it’s good that I went through it.? I have something in my life now that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t suffered then.

Suffering drives us to the Word

He says it is good he was afflicted “that I might learn your statutes.”? Pain has a way of driving us to God’s Word.? A way of impelling us to trust and obey.? Impelling us to trust God’s promises and pray that he’ll fulfill them.? Impelling us to obey God’s commands and walk in his ways.

Affliction tutors us to believe God will provide, protect, revive, comfort and direct us.

Trouble instructs us to obey God’s commands to delight in him, to walk in his ways, to flee evil, and to do all he commands.

In the classroom of adversity we learn to cling to the truth of God’s steadfast and unchanging love and obey his statutes with fear and trembling.

Speak in the present tense

If the Psalmist can say, “It is good that I WAS afflicted” because his pain bore good fruit, then we should say, “It is good that I AM afflicted” – present tense – knowing the great Vine Dresser is pruning us today to produce fruit tomorrow.? Our loving Father is disciplining us as his children to produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

We don’t deny the reality of pain.? We can honestly say, “I’m suffering and it hurts a lot but it is good that I’m afflicted.?? I’m grieving and oppressed, but it is good that I’m afflicted, because God is good.”

photo by Burwash Calligrapher

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.