I’ll be honest with you…
I just don’t get suffering sometimes. I flat out don’t understand it.
I have quite a few friends, both online and face to face who are going through unbelievable challenges right now. I look at most of them, wondering how all of this works. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve asked that all age old and cliched question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
If you would, spare me the comments and emails about how “God works all things…”
I get all that. I’m not doubting God. I’m not questioning the good that comes out of the bad things we go through in life. I have literally witnessed the blessings that come from extremely dark moments in life. What I am talking about is EXTREME pain. The kind that just keeps coming. The kind that pins you down by your face and won’t let up. The kind that just when you start to get back to your feet something else smacks you upside the head and puts you right back down.
I have long admired guys like Job and Joseph…
And I think that is where my answers come. It is in the real life stories of others like Job and Joseph or like my online friend Alece, that you understand the process that God uses to move us from point A to point B on the road to suffering.
My mistake has been that I buy into the lie…
That when I or someone I know and care about hurts, God must be absent. Again, save the comments and tweets about how I should know all this, undoubtedly I do. It’s just that I (and I think we all) have short memories. Pain has a way of tempting us to abandon truth and embrace the bitterness. Bitterness is easy and convenient, and we can easily find 100 people who will tell us that they don’t blame us for for having bitter beer face all the time. We cannot by into that lie. We can’t surround ourselves with those who will enable our fear and worry. We have to understand that it is not true that God abandons us in times of trouble, it is the exact opposite.
God is most present in our lives when we are most in need of Him.
Pastor Steven Furtick (@stevenfurtick) puts it this way in his book “Sun Stand Still”…
It’s hard to understand how the Lord could possibly be with someone who is going through such a dark time and paying such a high price. Unless you choose to believe that God wasn’t passively standing by, watching his servant suffer.
God isn’t “passively standing by.” Our God is working inside the insanity that is our pain and suffering, and orchestrating the detailed plan of how this dark time in our lives will give Him unmistakable glory. That’s why I love the stories of Job, Joseph and my friend Alece. You see Alece has gone through real heartache and though she has rough days, she has surrounded herself with people (@tamhodge & @inworship just to name a few.) who lift her up with unspoken prayers and spoken words at just the right time. She may not see it all yet, but she’s trusting that God is indeed there, one moment at a time.
It always comes back to our choice…
Doesn’t it? We can be just like everyone else in this world and wonder why bad things happen to good people, or we can be like Jesus and say, “Not my will but your will be done.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to do. Jesus didn’t have an easy go with it either. But how we handle pain and how it defines us is all about our point of view, isn’t it?
4 responses to “Point of View”
Oh amen and amen and amen!
I’ve started reading a book called “Plan B” by Pete Wilson that is all about how we deal with the detours life hands us and while I am only the first couple chapters into it, I was struck by something he said:
(using C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters” and what one demon tells another about gettting human’s to give up just before the trial is set to let up)
“How may times have you missed witnessing God at work in the midst of your shattered dream because you gave up on him five minutes – or five years – too soon?….Our trials of life seem to chip away at us, leaving us exhuasted, confused and vulnerable, We Resign ourselves to the fact that things simply are the way they are and there is no hope they will ever be any different. Feeling hopeless, we either run, taking things into our own hands, or we give up instead of waiting on God to act.”
I know even in the place I am now I am so close to wanting to give up. In fact last night I expressed just that to a couple friends “I give up. I’m tired and I can’t do this anymore” and as I said that they stepped in and and told me to “KEEP ON GOING. DON’T GIVE UP. WAIT. HOLD ON. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT GOD IS DOING OR WHEN HE’S GOING TO MOVE. Change could be right around the corner.”
I don’t understand why I, or anyone I love, has had to go through crap. But God doesn’t promise us that there won’t be any….He just promises to hold us when there is. I CLING to that promise daily…and He’s, so far, been faithful to hold me tight.
I finished that book a while back and have since led a group through it. It has made a huge impact on me. Love Pete Wilson & Crosspoint Church!!
I’ve owned it for a while…bought it about a year ago….but am just starting to read it (picked it up last night when I went to bed…wanted to read for a bit before fallign asleep, the other book I am reading was in the living room and Plan B was sitting on my bedside table on top of the stack of “books I want to read” that has been there for a while). God’s timing is rather impeccable.
I’m not sure I belong in the same sentence, let alone category, as Job and Joseph… but I am grateful for your words. and the much needed reminder to trust through the pain…
I too was gonna ask if you’ve read Plan B. I’m glad you have. amazing book.
I appreciate your friendship, Jason.