Doing Life Together

woman-918896_1920Where is God when it hurts? This is the title of one of the many Philip Yancey books I read years ago. And today I am thinking about this title again. Friends of mine have a teenage son who just had 6 hours of surgery to remove bone cancer from his arm. Their family is strong in faith, but there are moments when this question naturally comes up. Watching your child fight cancer, be in pain and have his life significantly changed due to loss is not easy for any parent. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t ask God why and where are you? How does a good God allow His children to suffer like this?

Yancey reminds us of the answer to the question. God is with us when we hurt. He doesn’t sit idly by and do nothing. He isn’t in heaven doling out suffering from afar. He is intimately involved in our struggle. We don’t go it alone. Remember, He became one of us and suffered. Jesus, who was without sin, still felt pain and suffered. He is acquainted with grief and carries our sorrows.

But when your child is in a hospital bed instead of playing on the La Crosse field, it is hard to see the good. We want our powerful God to heal and put an end to suffering. We acknowledge our anger and raw emotions, but we hopefully do not walk away from God feeling abandoned.

C.S. Lewis said, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” 

Pain is a part of this broken and fallen world. At times, we feel deep hurt and sorrow. But our hope is in the One who promised us that there will come a time when evil will be defeated and disease will be no more. Our world will be redeemed. In the meantime, all creation is groaning. It is during this difficult time that we choose God.

The Apostle Paul reminds us we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. God redeems all things and somehow uses our pain for good. For many, including my friends, pain brings a new focus to life. It can be transformed. Our weakness becomes His strength.

Pain often directs us to ask, to what end rather than why? How will God use this suffering to produce something valuable in me? Over and over, we see how suffering brings us closer to God; how we comfort others with the comfort we have been given. This is not because we live in denial or are twisted in our thinking. It is because we believe in the final chapter of His Word. We live in the hope that one day all suffering will end.

Where is God when we hurt? I am reminding myself today. He is with us. Despite the difficulty, we feel His peace and know His comfort.

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