Where is God when it hurts?He has been there from the beginning, designing a pain system that, even in the midst of a fallen world, still bears the stamp of his genius and equips us for life on this planet.He transforms pain, using it to teach and strengthens us, if we allow it to turn us toward him.With great restraint, he watches this rebellious planet live on, in mercy allowing the human project to continue in its self-guided way.He lets us cry out, like Job, in loud fits of anger against him, blaming him for a world we spoiled.He allies himself with the poor and suffering, founding a kingdom tilted in their favor. He stoops to conquer.He promises supernatural help to nourish the spirit, even if our physical suffering goes unrelieved.He has joined us. He has hurt and bled and cried and suffered. He has dignified for all time those who suffer, by sharing their pain.He is with us now, ministering to us through his Spirit and through members of his body who are commissioned to bear us up and relieve our suffering for the sake of the head.He is waiting, gathering the armies of good. One day he will unleash them, and the world will see one last terrifying moment of suffering before the full victory is ushered in. Then, God will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain shall be no more.I finished Philip Yancey's book, Where is God when it hurts?, as we flew over Los Angeles. I would without a doubt recommend this book to anyone. It covers the hard questions, working through how Christianity answers them not with a solution to pain but rather the answer of who. Changing our focus from ourselves and our own pain, changing our focus from the why of pain and redirecting our gaze to the King who loves us and also knows suffering first hand.
Changing the question from why to who is a life changing and extremely powerful question. I wrote more I about this and Britt Merrick's sermon, When Sparrows Fall, in a post. ( Click here to read more)
Trying to answer unanswerable questions, like 'why me?' become 'who is with me? who has been here before and understands?'
When my eyes move from me to Him, it changed everything.
Everything is seen with different eyes. I am comforted by the one who suffered far worse for me. He knows pain and sorrow and even asked God to take it away. Seeing that, that Christ the perfect son, asked God to take about His cup, if it is His will, that gives me hope. Suffering isn't about it's joy but rather growing closer to God - even when it is through desperate cries for help and another way.
So where is God when it hurts?
Where is God when it hurts? He is in us - not in the things that hurt - helping to transform bad into good. We can safely say that God can bring good out of evil; we cannot say that God brings about the evil in hopes of producing good.His is not there in the sickness or trial, He is there in YOU. No matter how bad it may be, He is with you and holds to His promise to bring good to those who love Him. He is there and always will be.
He knows suffering. Knows loneliness. He knows what it is going through the desert valley. But He chooses to come because of us and walk with us in those times so that we may not be alone. So that we can make it through. So that hope can be found. So that He can be found in stronger ways.
Sure He is powerful enough to stop it, to heal you, to bring you out of suffering, but sometimes we focus too much on that end goal or accomplishment. We want to be free of the pain and lack to see the growth that occurs in the journey to being healed. We want these different things gone, but somehow in the process of living in times of suffering, our souls grow and change in us, making us closer into the true people God designed us to be.
In some ways it would be easier for God to step in, to have faith for us, to help us in extraordinary ways. But he has instead chosen to stand before us, arms extended, while he asks us to walk, to participate in our own soul-making. That process always involves struggle, and often involves suffering.
(Another good and powerful read.... I hope to soon get my Resources page filled with books that have changed my life and could change yours as well. I hope to do that soon and hope you get a change to pick up this book!)