Should Suffering Lead to Self-Examination?
Should suffering lead to self-examination?
It shouldn't lead to a lot of time in self-examination, but some time.
In other words, I think pain is often God's shout (whereas pleasure is his whisper). Pain is his shout that there might be a problem—not always, but might be—and therefore we should pause and say, "Now as I look back over my days, have I fallen into a pattern of lukewarmness, or a pattern of indifference? Have I gotten into bitterness and resentment? Have I been treating my children, wife, and colleagues in ways that are unbefitting to one who lives by mercy?"
It's good to look back over and let pain become a wake-up call to our holiness. But if we look back over and see no extraordinary differences between times gone by when we were walking with the Lord and enjoying his blessing, we don't have to conclude that this pain is a direct reaction to that flaw in me or that sin. Rather, we should simply say, "OK Lord, I don't know any definite connection. What I know is that you love me, and that I am a sinful person with attitudes that aren't always right. I just ask that you maximize the effect on me of this struggle. Don't let me lose any benefit that you could possibly design for me in this pain."
I do this all the time. I get a sore throat or some teeny weeny little suffering and I ask, "Now Lord, is there anything here you're trying to waken me to?" And generally I don't see any direct connection, so I just say, "Lord teach me. Teach me all that you have for me in this, and bring me through. Grant me healing when your design is done."