I just received this excellent comment in an email from my brother-in-law, Rev. John Friedlund.
I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God. — Elizabeth Elliot
This makes sense to me. I see my own tendency and the tendency of those around me to avoid pain in their lives, but I realize that without pain, there is no depth to the shaping of the soul.
Don’t you wonder how God might have shaped us if we’d not sinned in Eden? Perhaps we would not have needed shaping at all, since we were without sin. I doubt it. I think you can need to grow without being in a state of sin. And I think that growth was part of God’s intention for humankind from the start. So shaping would have been part of that growth. But I think that we would have been more pliable — more able to accept direction than we are in our “fallen” state.
The real question is this: Do we accept direction any better since we’ve been redeemed?