“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”
When my paralyzing accident happened, I know the Lord took no pleasure in it. I believe it pained his heart to see me hurt, just as any father has compassion on his child. Yet I also know it pleased the Lord to permit my accident. He was as delighted then as he is now to work it all out for my good and his glory. Sound confusing? I can understand why: in some Scriptures God is described as grieving over affliction; in others it doesn’t seem to bother him.
Dr. John Piper explains it this way: God has the capacity to look at the world through two lenses, a narrow lens and a wide-angle lens. When the Lord looks at a painful event through the narrow lens, he sees the tragedy for what it is in itself, and he is deeply grieved, as Ezekiel 18:32 says: “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD.” He hates the isolated incident of disease, crime, or violence.
But when God looks at a painful event through his wide-angle lens, he sees the tragedy in relation to everything leading up to it, as well as everything that flows from it. He has in mind Romans 8:28, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him,” and Ephesians 1:11, “…according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” The connections form a mosaic stretching into eternity. This mosaic—in all its parts of good and evil, dark and light—brings him delight.
God often wills what he despises, because he has two lenses. You can trust him today that your painful trial is part of a pattern. One day you too will put on that wide-angle lens. When you do, what a beautiful mosaic you will see.
My shortsightedness, Lord, keeps me from seeing how pain can result in good. Help me to look through the lens of faith.