Do You Trust God When You’re Hurting?
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22-23
In reading through Leith Anderson’s great book, Becoming Friends with God, I have been challenged to really consider the extent of suffering in this world. Four commercial jets over-taken by terrorists crash into buildings and a pasture, consuming innocent lives and leaving thousands of children without a mom or dad. An AIDS epidemic rages through central Africa, taking the lives of tens of thousands of adults, also condemning countless children to death from the day they are born. A young mother is diagnosed with inoperable cancer. She is utterly shaken, not so much by the prospects of the disease and death, but by the realization that she won’t be there for her children—a fear that when they grow up they won’t remember her. Fire, floods, earthquakes, divorce, murder, suicide…we are surrounded by the so much suffering.
The list goes on like a large directory. Global and personal tragedies are everywhere. Our headlines and the evening news are filled with enough “doom and gloom” to make a mortician cry. We never like it, but the reality is that pain and suffering are a part of life and living.
Still, we wonder why. We know that God is merciful, kind, compassionate, loving, forgiving, faithful, good, peaceful, and ever-present, so why does He permit so much pain? There’s no quick and easy answer. But, through the years I have learned a few things about suffering.
Suffering can come from sin—ours and others. God gave man a free will and equipped him with an intellect to make choices. With this freedom comes much responsibility—and the consequences of decisions that are outside of God’s plan. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12. Some pain comes merely from the consequences of bad choices—a natural consequence.
Suffering can come from Satan and his army, too. A spiritual battle wages for our soul, our character, and our effective witness. This evil enemy is on a seek-and-destroy mission and “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). If he can’t destroy us, he at least wants to take us out—render us useless.
God loves us and allows suffering for a greater, divine purpose. He may use it to shine a light on our faith and draw others to Him. He may use it to grow our character, our compassion, or our ability to reach others with His message of hope. He may use it to discipline us “…The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Heb. 12:6. He may choose to bring about immediate consequences, prompting us to change directions and avoid complete destruction. There’s nothing like pain to get our attention and grow us.
But at the end of the day, we can take comfort in knowing that God cares, understands, and will work all things for good in our life. When we ask, “God why don’t you do something?” I expect He replies, “I already have…I gave you my only Son to die for your sins and to help transform you into a better person. I gave you eternal life. Trust me.”
The Power of Truth:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” Isa. 53:3
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Rom. 8:28
Suggestion for Prayer:
Trust God. Seek His counsel, forgiveness, comfort, and peace.