Hello Friends, you know it’s easy to shake our fists at God when something extraordinarily painful happens. We naturally ask, “Where is God in all of this?” You might know someone who has asked, Where is God in my disability? Where is God in my siblings blindness? Where is God in my baby’s birth defect?
Maybe you’ve asked the question in less physical situations that are no less painful. You could be going through a nasty divorce, corporate downsizing, facing bankruptcy, or trying to manage the chaos the poor choices one of your children is making. Where is God in all of this? Hasn’t He promised an abundant life to His children? Doesn’t He care when we hurt?
Yes, God cares. He cares so much that it cost Him the life of His only son. God knows firsthand what it’s like to suffer – we sometimes forget that he identifies with our suffering and hurts – but Jesus suffered beyond what any one of us can even fathom.
Jesus knew that when He came to earth, He was going to bear the cumulative sin, sickness, evil, disease and pain of the entire human race on his shoulders. What an incredible burden to bear! No wonder when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane He asked the Father to release Him from the terrible task at hand. “Yet I want your will, not mine” He said (Matthew 26:39). We know that God’s will was for Jesus to suffer and die so that we would have the opportunity to live. We may not understand it, but suffering – most definitely the suffering of Christ – is God’s way of fixing what went wrong when sin entered and nearly destroyed the world.
When we ask, “Where is God when we suffer?” we need only look to Christ, who suffered for us so that ultimately, in the life that follows this temporal existence, we won’t have to suffer. Meanwhile, we live imperfectly in an imperfect world. We see through a glass darkly, knowing that someday our tears and pain will be removed…for good. When we do suffer – as long as we aren’t suffering for something that comes from poor choices – we can take comfort in knowing that we are “partners with Christ” in His suffering (1 Peter 4:13).
As people who walk this earth with a heavenly perspective, suffering is both our curse and our calling. We may not like it or understand why, but we know there is Someone who has gone before us and promises never to leave us.
When a loved one is suffering after experiencing a tremendous loss, they don’t find comfort in platitudes or condolences. Often well-meaning people can say things with that are intended to help, but they don’t. Unless you’ve walked in the shoes of another – you don’t know what they are going through. Our society is uncomfortable with grieving, and wants the sufferer to quickly rush though it and return back to “normal.”
Friends, even if you have experienced something similar – you still do not know what that individual is going through. Your lives are on two completely different tracks. While there may be some commonalities in the process of grief, remember that each persons journey will be different and unique to their situation, upbringing, family and culture.
Many times words intended to provide comfort or a encouragement are perceived completely different. If you know someone who has experienced such heartache, merely the comfort of your presence is all that’s needed to soothe the soul.
There are no words that bring comfort. While this might bring anxiety levels up for many, as our culture places a high value on “doing” rather than “being” – this clearly shows that it’s more about you than about serving them.
Christ wanted his disciples to be with Him in His final hour when he was praying because the comfort of their presence was all that he needed as he spoke to his father. But the disciples failed him – they fell asleep. Sometimes we fail our friends too.
Perhaps we can learn from the experiences that we witness around us, and from the example of Christ. Instead of being so focused on saying the perfect line, quote, or clique, may our hearts be transformed into people who reflect His heart.
May our hearts be more sensitive to listening, caring for others, and not so much about how we come across. And may the glory of God shine through our love as we continually die to self and love those around us.