One of my favorite books as a child was Judith Viorst’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” It tapped in to a truth that even at a young age I was aware of – sometimes we just have terrible days. Some of us have stories of terrible weeks or even terrible years (2020, I’m looking at you).
Pain, suffering, trials and difficulties are all a part of the human condition. We all know this intellectually, but for some reason when we’re in the middle of it, our initial reaction is usually one of surprise and outrage.
“God, how could you let this happen?”
The Bible doesn’t teach that God’s followers will never experience pain and suffering. The book of Job offers a very early test case to discount that idea. God’s chosen people, the Israelites (including the prophets, priests and kings) all experienced persecution and painful chapters in their lives. And Jesus pretty much guaranteed early on in his ministry, that his followers would face persecution, just like he would. Did you catch that? Even the Son of God experienced pain! In fact, it was a key element to His earthly purpose. And just as it was for Jesus, it will be so for us.
The problem of pain is a much larger subject than we can really do justice in one post. But we can cover a couple of ideas with some broad strokes.
Much of pain and suffering is caused by the consequences of sin. Sometimes it’s our own sin, sometimes it is someone else’s. At the macro level, we suffer from the context of our fallen condition, the collective stupidity of choosing our way over God’s way. It’s why the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is as rigged as a carnival game. The simple answer is, “there are no good people.”
Understanding that we’re all going to go through pain in our lives (whether self or others inflicted) maybe the better question to ask is, “how do I get through it?”
Here are a couple of things to consider when facing a trial of some kind:
1. You’re not alone. God is with you and He gave you His church. When we rely on Him and His hands and feet (AKA our Christian brothers and sisters) we can experience immense blessing. I’m not the only one with a testimony that God never feels more present than when we cling to Him in times of pain and uncertainty.
2. You can experience incredible growth. God can use painful experiences to move you towards maturity and mercy. Many have come back to faithfulness or found ministry opportunities through their painful experiences.
3. God can be glorified through our pain. Many of our saints at Belmont who have gone on to Heaven have been as much a witness in their passing as in their lives. Accounts from caregivers and family members tell of a peace, joy, and hope that is so incongruous against their loved one’s painful circumstances that they can’t help but see the mark of God on their lives.
When I was in college, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I watched her exhibit each of these steps. Her question changed from “why me?” to “why not me?” She was bolstered as key friends from the church and family members stepped up to provide meals and drive her to chemo and radiation. And she saw her situation as a mission field to those going through the same battle.
That was a difficult time for her, and scary for all of us. But it was a time when she saw that she wasn’t alone, that God could grow her and use her in the midst of it, and that He could be glorified through all of it.
Remember, in your pain, you’re not alone. God loves you and His church is here to help you. If you’re going through something difficult and would like someone to talk with you or pray for you please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s post is by Jon Price