Could we just start today with a moment of pure, raw honesty? Thank you. Ok, here goes. If I’m honest, which I hope to always be, I have struggled with the co-existence of God’s goodness and human suffering. There, I said it. Can we all be friends now? I have a strong, unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, and still there are times when my fears and doubts seem larger than my faith. I know that some of the things I post might not sit too well theologically with my entire audience of readers, but I think it’s safe to say that we all, at one time or another, have wrestled with this very same thing. We’ve all asked or wanted to ask the difficult questions that rise to the surface when we come face to face with human suffering, especially the suffering of the innocent.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Where is God in the midst of pain?
If God is good, why do the innocent suffer?
If God is sovereign, why does He allow suffering?
While many of these questions seem to go unanswered, they all have at least one thing in common: These questions always bring us back to God. Whether we say we believe in Him or not, the very wrestling with them draws the focus of our hearts back to our Creator. Because we know that there is something more than what we see. And so we want to see it. We know there is a deeper purpose to our pain. And so we want to know what it is. We know there is more to this life than the tangible. And so we want to reach out and grab it.
Pain, unlike much else in this life, has the ability to bring us to our knees fast. Suffering exposes within us our frailty and weakness. Deep hurt always reveals deep need. And there you have it. Deep need. If there is one thing that I have learned through suffering, it is that there is always purpose in our pain. Always. If it doesn’t teach us about the depravity of man, it teaches us about the goodness of God. It’s one or the other, sometimes both. The times of deepest need in my life have always been the times of deepest communion with God, and it is time spent in His presence that reveals His heart.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” → contentment
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” → rest
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” → guidance
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” → protection
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;” → provision
“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” → joy
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” → favor
Just a quick look at a familiar passage, and notice how our perspective can change. Never forget the presence of God in your pain. He is good when this world is not. He is steady when the ground beneath you shakes. He is faithful when you are faithless. Even in the face of suffering, our God is good. Our circumstances will never alter His character. And when our “whys” go unanswered, choose to embrace hope instead of despair, hope in the person of Jesus Christ and not in a desired end result. For this hope does not fade.