A frequently asked question in counseling is related to the relationship between God’s goodness and our misery. I think it is fair to say that many people enter Christianity with the idea that their saving relationship with Jesus Christ is going to deliver them from all pain, suffering, and misery. When they find out their Christian life is nothing like that, they become discouraged and frequently abandon their faith. As to whether or not their faith was ever genuine is the subject for another blog. However, the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18 – 23) makes it very clear that people can appear to become Christians without ever experiencing the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, and these “conversions” are clearly false. I do think that some cases of walking away from God in times of trial and misery are due to the fact that such persons were never regenerate in the first place.
We experience misery because of the curse. Before the fall (Genesis: 3) there was no pain, crying, misery, disease, or sorrow. None of these things existed prior to the sin of Adam and Eve. Since Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, mankind has strived to eliminate suffering from the world. The reality is, it will never happen in this life. So what are we to do with the suffering and misery that befalls us?
Some people approach misery by using a denial tactic. It is rarely possible to completely deny being miserable, but many people try “to keep a stiff upper lip,” thereby minimizing the depths of their travails. I have seen other people say things like, “Well, it could’ve been worse!” I am not sure the Bible supports denial as a way of dealing with our problems. In fact, we can see in the Scriptures that when suffering took place those who were in the midst of it were not scorned or chastised for admitting their grief. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 11:30, Paul said boasting about his weaknesses magnified God’s power that was at work in him.
It is really okay for you to admit the reality of your pain and your suffering and furthermore, it is also okay to say that God has allowed it into your life. It is not unchristian to talk about your sorrows and woes, because God has given us a confident hope in our redemption. God uses our pain to remind us that we live in a fallen world. He uses our pain to help us to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).
If you find yourself in a pit of misery today, I want to remind you that despite how it may feel your suffering is momentary and light. Please do not think me cruel for saying this I have been there myself and I understand what it is like to be on the receiving end of such words. I want to turn your attention to second Corinthians 4:16-18,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
God is doing something in the midst of your misery! He is perfecting you! He is cleansing and purifying you! God does not waste anything. God is always good, God’s ways are always perfect, even when it hurts. He is making all things new (Ephesians 4:24).