As humans, we are wired to seek meaning. In suffering and pain, our humanity shows: We seek to understand; we want to know why.
But the answers to our why’s are often elusive and at best incomplete.
In the Bible, there is the story of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison while he waited for his execution:
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out [for execution], that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, ‘Arise quickly!’ And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, ‘Gird yourself and tie on your sandals’ and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.’
S0 he went out and followed him … When they were past the first and second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them on its own accord … (Acts 12: 5 – 10).
Peter saved! A miracle! Yet, before this story one can read of a much different result for a fellow believer, James:
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword, (Acts 12: 1-2).
And I wonder: Why save Peter and not James?
I do not know.
One can face suffering and pain with its unanswered questions with God, with other gods, or without God or other gods. The promise of Jesus is about a relationship, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20).
Peter found God to be a good companion whether in prison or out … and that is a response to suffering and pain worth considering.