When you’re hurting

I Peter 5:10

My dear friend,

I know I can’t possibly understand exactly what you’re going through, but I’ve tasted enough pain to feel at least a little of your heartache. Even that taste is overwhelming.

I long to solve your problems, to ease the pain, to un-do what has been done.

And I, like you, ask God why He would allow these things to happen in the first place.

When trivial things happen, like a flat tire right before an important meeting, I’m not happy, but I rationalize that perhaps God is sparing me from an accident. “Everything happens for a reason.” When I question annoying inconveniences, I don’t struggle for long to put things back into God’s sovereign hand. It’s easier to trust Him when the stakes aren’t so high.

There are some things though, that make no sense at all… things that, to me, could not possibly work out for the best.

Why are people imprisoned and tortured for their faith?
Why do moms of young children have to die?
How does an unfaithful spouse fit into God’s sovereign plan?
Why the debilitating disease after faithful service to the Lord?
Couldn’t the baby have lived?
Did the abuse have to happen?
Why suicide?

If I wish I could fix all that’s so ugly, horrible, and gut-wrenching, doesn’t God?

Even as I ask, I am reminded that God hates it all more than I do.

I am forced to look back and remember that it is the sin of all mankind, including me, that brought pain and suffering to our world.

And God does want to fix it.

Jesus, fully God and fully man, came to earth and suffered among us, dying an excruciating death with the weight of all our sins upon him.

Because he took our punishment upon himself, died, was buried, and rose again,

we are now offered forgiveness of sin and eternal life…

if we simply place our complete trust in Him.

The truth is, no matter how unbearable our lives are in the here and now,

we have the hope — the confident expectation — of eternity with Christ

where there will be no more tears, pain or sorrow.

How I long for that day… for myself, for you, for all who have trusted Jesus as Savior.

And so we wait…

I am familiar with waiting.

When we waited for our children to be adopted, we expected results in about six months. Six months turned into eighteen months. Then it was a year. Then two. Then five. By the time eight years had passed, and our dossier had been passed off to five different lawyers to no affect, I was utterly convinced nothing would ever change.

But then it did. Just when all hope was lost, everything changed. Heaven and earth moved — literally, and the wait ended.

I don’t know if your situation is going to change here on earth. I pray that it does.

And because God is a God of miracles, goodness, and love, your impossible situation can be transformed into a thing of great beauty. After all, that is the hope of Christ’s resurrection: miraculous life emerging from the bitterness of death.

Of course, complete healing cannot come until Heaven — the final resurrection.

I’ve been tempted at times to feel that Heaven is just too far away to bring any immediate comfort, but, our adoption journey and eight-year stay in Haiti was a powerful parable to me about the brevity of our time here on earth:

It may feel that nothing will ever change, that we are stuck in our misery forever.

But one of these days, we are going to be shocked to find ourselves on the other side of eternity.
We WILL finally get there.
Jesus WILL finally say, “Enough!” and we will be done with sin, Satan, and suffering.

How I love and cling to the promise of I Peter 5:10:

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

It is for “a little while.” We will be restored.

Know this: As you suffer, you bless the heart of God, and you inspire me and others around you. We look at you and marvel at what God is doing in you.

Thank you for all the moments and days that you press on and stay faithful to the Lord in spite of the temptation to run away from your problems, seeking relief in any form.

Thank you for trusting God with your life and your yet-to-be-resolved story.

Thank you for your testimony of faith before “a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) both on earth and in heaven.

Watching you persevere increases our faith in Christ. We are seeing that His grace is indeed sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Also, know that the grace that has carried you to this point will not run out on you.

Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge… (Psalm 141:8)

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way… (Psalm 142:3)

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him… (2 Chronicles 16:9)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you… (Isaiah 51:10)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

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