By Stephen Altrogge
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. (Lamentations 3:31-33)
I admit, there are times when I believe God enjoys bringing pain into my life. I know in my head that God works all things for good, and that I am supposed to rejoice always, and that nothing can blady, blady, blah. But deep down, I suspect God somehow enjoys seeing me suffer. I think of God as a drill sergeant. He makes me suffer because He knows it will ultimately be truly good for me (see Romans 8 etc.) But, he also makes me suffer because he enjoys seeing me break down. I imagine that God enjoys breaking me.
But the reality is, God takes NO pleasure in my suffering. None. Zero. Nada.
Thomas Brooks says, “God takes no delight to afflict his children; it goes against the grain of his heart. It grieves him to be grievous to them; it pains him to punish then, and it is like death to him to strike them. He has no inclination or disposition to the work of afflicting them…”
I’m a dad. I love my children so much and I do not take any pleasure in disciplining my children. There are times when I must discipline them, but it does not bring me any pleasure. Our heavenly father does not take any pleasure in causing us to suffer. He is not a cosmic sadist. Yes, he uses suffering for our good. Yes, he uses suffering to make us more like Jesus. Yes, he works all of our sufferings for his glory and our good. But he does not enjoy breaking us. He does not take a perverted pleasure in seeing us brought to nothing. All suffering is the result of sin in the world (not necessarily personal sin, but the fact that sin is in the world).
How sad it must be for God when I think he enjoys hurting me. How hurtful it must be to him when I believe he enjoys orchestrating my suffering. His heart is tender toward me. His hands are gentle around me. It grieves him to be grievous to me. It is like death for him to strike me.
Scripture promises we will suffer. When we suffer, let’s not believe the Satanic lie that God somehow enjoys making us suffer. Nothing could be further from the truth. He ordains, orchestrates, and uses suffering. But he never, ever delights in causing suffering.