Every year, for the past 33 years of my life, I’ve had another birthday. Another celebration, another day to be thankful for being alive.
Each year, I face more challenges than the year before. I learn more lessons, I experience life in a different way, and also witness a lot of heartache and pain….whether I am the one going through the heartache or perhaps it’s happening to someone I love and care for.
When I was 16 years old, I became a Christian. I was invited to go to a youth service at a Christian church on a Friday night. I thought it was odd anyone would want to be in church on a Friday, but that was besides the point. I only went because my friend had kept on asking me to go. I didn’t know that God would have an appointment with me, and that it was God that was putting in on my heart to go.
I remember hearing the youth pastor talk and it was as if he was speaking directly to me, saying a lot of what I had been through. I remember seeing people lift their hands, pray out loud personal prayers to God, weeping out loud and worshiping God. I had never seen this before and I was intrigued. Young people love God this much? They talked to Him with such confidence, like they really knew Him. I wanted to know Him too. I wanted to experience what they had with God.
On another night, I was overwhelmed with emotion again as I heard the youth pastor preach. This time he asked if anyone wanted prayer to come to the altar. I was afraid, but as I sat in my seat I just couldn’t control my tears. I was hurting inside a lot for many different reasons. I quickly went to the altar and he prayed with me. I asked Jesus into my heart, and I told Him I would live for Him from that day on.
Since then, the journey has not been easy. Each year, new challenges. But each year, new victories. New seasons to see God’s faithfulness. New days to know Him more and grow to love Him deeply. God has been my rock through every trial I’ve faced. When I felt alone, He was there. When I felt misunderstood, He understood me. When I felt rejected, He accepted me. When I felt weak, He gave me strength. And He continues to do so.
I know that without Him, when faced with trials, I’m sure I would be running to anything I could to fill me up in desperation. I would probably have unhealthy addictions, and cling to people to be my god. I could imagine myself just being completely depressed if I didn’t have some sort of relationship with God.
So why do I say this? I feel compelled to write this because as I look in the world we live in everyday, I see more pain, more brokenness, more addictions, more death, more depression, more suicides… the list goes on. I believe with all my heart and always will believe-that faith in God and a relationship with Him is the answer to all these things.
No, God doesn’t always tell us why terrible things happen. Sometimes there is no logical explanation and we won’t have the reasons why. Also, faith in God is not a “get out of suffering free” pass. In fact, the suffering often increases. However, there is a difference in suffering with no hope vs. suffering with your eyes on your Creator and clinging to Him with all of your heart. There is the mentality that no matter how broken, how painful, how severe, God can and will bring something good out of tragedy.
He does not spare us the pain, but He promises to be there with us. He promises that he can make us stronger because of it. He promises that we can know Him more deeply and personally if we allow Him into our hurts. He will walk through the fire with us. We are not alone.
I still have a lot of questions for God. I still doubt sometimes and stumble. I wish God would tell me why my aunt and grandma died of cancer years ago, I wish I knew why when I went on missions trips that I had to see starving children in another country, I wish I knew why some babies are born to addicts, why there has to be wars, accidents, and all the crazy things that happen in our world.
There are just some times when life hits us hard, when the unexpected happens, and maybe we don’t know what to do. It hurts and it’s hard and we feel like God has let us down or betrayed us somehow by letting us feel pain. He’s God, can’t he prevent it all? He can stop all bad things, so why doesn’t He?
When I ask myself these questions, I go to the Word of God. The Word of God shows us God’s true character, His true nature. If you want to learn about what God is like, just simply open the Bible and start reading. First I also suggest you pray and ask God, “Help me understand what I’m reading, I want to know you.”
I also remind myself that some of God’s most powerful work is done in the midst of suffering. Look at Jesus. The most horrific death was experienced by Jesus Christ, yet we reap the benefits of it all. His death and suffering brings us eternal life. Without His suffering, we would all be lost and without hope.
Because of what Jesus went through, He can relate to our suffering. Jesus faced intense temptations on this earth. When he was almost near death, he was afraid. He prayed that God would not let him suffer death on a cross. But we know that He had to do it for us.
Suffering also happens because we live in a broken world. As long as we are on this earth, we will face some type of suffering. There is sin and imperfection all around us. But as believers, we hold onto the promise and hope that we are truly just passing through this earth. This is not our home.
We can hold onto the future hope that one day we will truly be with God forever. We will see Him face to face, and He can answer all of our questions and wipe away all of our tears.
Revelation 21:4- “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.”
Do you want to know Him? Do you want to have that hope? It can be yours today, it’s freely given. You just have to believe and receive it.
Whatever you may be facing tonight I want to encourage you to take it to God. Let Him use your pain and suffering for your good and His glory. Nothing may make sense right now, but your whole life is like a huge puzzle. Only a few pieces are complete. You can’t see the big picture, but He can. Put your faith in Him today and know that nothing you go through is in vain. He is with you, He is for you, and He is waiting to have your heart.