As long as we live on this side of heaven we are guaranteed to experience pain and suffering. Unfortunately, that is the reality of living in a sin-cursed world. The good news is that God deeply cares about our pain and trials; the thread of His mercy and love is woven throughout the scriptures from the very beginning.
“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…”
As a child my anxiety over all the bad things that could potentially happen to me kept me up at night. After watching the TV version of Titanic and seeing Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet out at sea, Leo’s lips purple and his hair encrusted with ice, I became so fearful of what other tragedies have come upon innocent people and what might happen to me in my lifetime. My mindset focused on avoiding anything that could cause me pain or suffering. It wasn’t that I didn’t know I had a Heavenly Father who would always be with me. I did. But I focused my energy (read: anxiety) on my own control of my circumstances rather than solely trusting in a loving God who would protect me through the inevitable struggles of life. How often do you try to control your circumstances like this? We all do at some point. But the reality is that we are fooling ourselves thinking we have that kind of power and control. God not only desires that we trust him, but an abundant and peaceful Christian walk requires that we do!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
WHEN (not “if”) you encounter a hardship, whether it be emotional, physical, etc., it’s important to remember a few things:
Your situation isn’t in the middle of you and God because He is facing it alongside you. Your sickness doesn’t mean He wants to punish you for something; your chronic back pain, migraines, or broken heart doesn’t mean He loves you any less.
Romans 8:35, 37
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
Hard times can cause us to turn away from God or to grow closer to Him. Remember that, while He faces our trials with us, He will allow us to go through whatever is necessary to grow our faith and trust in Him. This can cause feelings of resentment, confusion, and greater pain— that is normal. In those times we can turn to Jesus who experienced the utmost sacrifice, injustice, and pain. He even asked God “If You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me… Why have You forsaken me?” This didn’t stop Jesus’ pain. But look at the glorious end result. Jesus may have questioned His situation, but He surrendered to God’s will for Him. We are called to do the same, but when that is difficult to do, turn to the scriptures, read about the Apostle Paul’s suffering and the emotional and physical pain Jesus endured. Whatever you do, do not stay in your despair or self-pity. Take heart that your faith is being stretched and your perseverance strengthened.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Maybe God has allowed you to go through this trial because He knows how strong you are and that you will turn your pain into a testimony for His glory. Undoubtedly, there are others going through similar situations who will benefit from your encouragement that they are not alone. Trust that God’s plan is perfect and complete and there is a purpose for your pain.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
No matter what happens in your life, remember what Jesus said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Whether your struggles are relieved on this side of heaven or not, we can be sure that one day there WILL be no more tears, no more disease, no more heartbreak. Until then, trust your Heavenly Father and surrender to His will moment by moment to get you through.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”