Read Job 36:15
15 But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer.
For he gets their attention through adversity. (NLT)
We do hear of people saying that pain is good, that suffering matures us, that we grow through setbacks. These are dangerous half-truths. Pain in itself is not good, though it can lead to good. We don’t inevitably grow through hardships: we have that possibility, but we can also go backwards. We may swim or sink.
So we need not take too seriously pious insistence that we welcome and embrace pain and suffering. God is not the source of any of this and he doesn’t send it on any of us. Rather, he allows it to happen and promises us that he is with us in it and that he can work good out of it. Which is very different to saying the suffering in itself is good.
The tragic death of a young person may result in some friends of that young person coming to faith in Jesus. But that doesn’t make the death good; it simply points to the fact that death is not the last word or the only reality.
As our text reminds us, God is often able to get through to us more clearly in times of hardship, times when we realise just how much we need him. If we can at least believe that God can work good out of things and that he is with us in them, then our pain can be changed if not removed.
After all, athletes endure great pain but are able to do so because they see a worthwhile goal at the end of it. Pregnant women endure the pain of childbirth because of the anticipated outcome of it. None of this makes pain good, but it can give it purpose.