A major impediment to Christian growth is the following false association:
I suspect this thought exists in most people's mind as an instinctive assumption, and is the reason why we react wrongly to the things in life which are not pleasant. Anything pleasant is easy to praise God over; but when something difficult or painful comes along we squawk and lose our spiritual composure.
Evil = Pain Good = Pleasure
1Pet 4:12-13 (NIV) Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ...To be holy, to live righteously, to have God's goodness live inside us, means not only joy and peace; but also pain and suffering. On the other hand, many evil things can contain pleasure as well, right? Clearly we need to stop thinking that pleasure is "good" and pain is "evil", and begin to let God transform our instincts in this regard.
2John 1:9 (NIV) Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God...The appeal of the error that pain = evil lies in a proper thinking about heaven. In eternity with Christ, there will be no more tears, sorrow, or grief. But in the meantime there will be pain, and we will not respond rightly till we stop seeing pain as "bad" in the here and now.
1Pet 4:16-19 (NIV) ...If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.Christian growth and living involves much that is painful to endure. We need to stop flinching and begin to "take captive" the thoughts that are the source and cause of such reactions. We need to "continue in the teaching of Christ" in the meantime, and not "run ahead". For the cost of entry to the Kingdom of Heaven is suffering, and we should not be surprised when pain comes along.
1Pet 4:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.If there is a relation as to Good, Evil, Pain, and Pleasure, it is more along the lines of order. The way of the Lord is very different than the way of Satan.
Satan comes offering pleasure as bait, but take it and you will be clutching your gut in pain down the road. He smiles a compelling smile at us to lure us in, then slugs us in the stomach when we get close. He cruises around offering candy to the children of God like a pervert in the park. We take a yellow lollipop, and end up wrenching from the poison and getting sick near death. But here he comes again with a green one, and surely this one will be OK? When will we ever learn.
Evil = Pleasure... then Pain Good = Pain... then Pleasure
God, on the other hand, looks fierce and unapproachable in his holiness, and to move towards Him takes courage and means pain, weeping and tears. Yet, when we draw near, He calls us friends and not slaves, speaks softly to us, raises our heads, and shows us great loving kindness. He tells us to take up a cross, which is a far cry from a lollipop; but if we do we are resurrected to "life, and that more abundantly" (Jn 10:10)
The way of the Lord is nearly the opposite of Satan. "Come let us go up" (Isa 2:3) to the Lord, rather than down to Satan.
Goodness starts with pain, but ends in eternal pleasure. Badness starts with pleasure, and ends in eternal pain. Let us clear our heads of any nonsense that pain is evil. Jesus was good, and He experienced a lot of pain. Let us look to Him, and become more and more like Him.Heb 11:24-25,32-38 (NIV) By faith Moses... chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time... And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who... quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies... Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated--the world was not worthy of them.
Heb 12:2-3 (Wey) Simply fixing our gaze upon Jesus, our Prince Leader in the faith, who will also award us the prize. He, for the sake of the joy which lay before Him, patiently endured the cross, looking with contempt upon its shame, and afterwards seated Himself--where He still sits--at the right hand of the throne of God. Therefore, if you would escape becoming weary and faint-hearted, compare your own sufferings with those of Him who endured such hostility directed against Him by sinners.
Gal 6:9 (NIV) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Rev 21:4 (NIV) "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."