There are some instances that what we feel is only pain and it seems that all joy is lost.
Frustrations do come, in most cases they are inevitable. There are really phases of life wherein we realize our limitations and see our weaknesses. In those times we feel utterly helpless.
The feeling of helplessness, incompetence, inability, and incapacity is more than a monster that eats the soul – it is a decay that destroys from within, inside-out. A person who suffers from this for extended periods of time will result to a troubled and frustrated life, one that has no meaning or purpose.
A fulfilled life begins with Jesus. But often, the Christian life is frustrated, and is full of setbacks. Many factors contribute to the brokenness of the Christian life – inherent weaknesses and flaws, sins and God’s discipline, and most importantly – trials and tribulations. If we desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it has been promised that we should first go through trials and tribulations.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10: 25-30)
There are major differences though between the three major sources of pain and sufferings in the Christian life: 1) of sins and weaknesses, 2) of God’s discipline, and 3) of trials and tribulations.
Regarding the first one, of sins and weaknesses, the source of pain is very inherent and inward. It is something that the saint continuously fights and struggles with all the day of his/her life since the day of his redemption. The fight stops only when the saint reaches perfection in heaven. The weaknesses alone of the saint, like lust and greed, cause much pain already, but when the weaknesses bloom into acts of sin, the pain and the damages are magnified a hundredfold.
Regarding the second one, of God’s discipline, the pain is even worse in greater proportions than the sin itself committed, for it is God Himself who does the discipline and He intends to hurt the Christian. The more the Christian choose to live in sin, the more the discipline intensifies. It is only appropriate that we respond humbly to the discipline, submitting to God’s standard of righteousness, as the only way to benefit from the pain of the discipline.
My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord,
Nor faint when thou art reproved of him;
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,
And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12: 5-11)
And lastly, regarding trials and tribulations, the pain like the second one is also caused by God, directly or indirectly, for it is often thru pain that God teaches His greatest lessons. If we think that most of what is bad that comes to us is caused by the devil, then we have a wrong understanding or belittling of God’s sovereignty. Remember when Satan wanted to hurt Job, he had to secure God’s permission, ultimately it is by God’s will that Job was hurt.
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” (Job 2: 3)
Indeed, it is part of God’s plan to hurt us first before we bless us; God wants refinement of our character so we could handle His blessings.