I have often been asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I usually answer with a simple statement which is, “Only one person is good and He suffered the most unimaginable physical, emotional, and spiritual pain possible…”
Why? Because of His great love.
You see, until we reach heaven, we will experience pain. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Furthermore, the Scripture tells us that “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Meaning, whether you are in Christ or an atheist, you will surely experience difficulty in this lifetime. However, the believer can be comforted with God’s promise that He will and does use ALL things for good, primarily the sanctification of His children. No trial will ever be wasted for those who are in Him.
Ok, but HOW do you handle this pain when it comes? What do you do when you find out you have miscarried for the 3rd time or when your closest friend passes away? Where do you turn when your marriage is in shambles or you have been ostracized from your family? In whom do you confide when your debt is piling up or your health is deteriorating?
I must admit, too often I have turned to everything but God in my suffering. This world offers so many forms of escape! It’s human nature to desire to run as far as possible from the pain (Psalm 55:6-7). Starvation, gossip, self-harm, or mind-numbing entertainment in the form of television are just a few of the “refuges” I’ve chosen in my short lifetime. In those great moments of despair I wanted nothing more than for the pain to go away, which ironically is an idol in and of itself. These sinful tactics do seem to work, temporarily. However, turning to sin ultimately leads to greater despair. You cannot control the bad things happening to you or around you, but you can control how you respond. Will you honor God with your response?
We read about extreme suffering throughout Scripture. There is certainly nothing sinful about suffering. Psalm 77:4 says, “You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. Job in great agony proclaimed, “I would rather be strangled-rather die than suffer like this” (Job 7:15). Yes, you read that correctly. Even a child of God became so overwhelmed with despair that he pleaded with God to take his life. The Psalmists as well pleaded and begged for God to intercede on multiple occasions. One notable difference about the psalms is that almost all of them end with the Psalmist, the sufferer, reminding himself of who God is. Psalm 77:11 continues, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” He continues by recounting specific works of the Lord, when He led the Israelites out of Egypt. He counsels himself to remember what God has done.
This was the crucial part for me. You see, I’ve always been really good at crying out to God. The problem is, I stopped right there. I kept crying and replaying in my mind all of the reasons why I was overcome with grief. I never counseled myself to remember GOD. How life changing this has been for me. I’m thankful a friend recommended the book, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop. He beautifully explains how to biblically lament. It is definitely worth checking out if you are in the depths of despair yourself or walking alongside a friend who is.
We all desire for someone to understand our pain though, don’t we? Isn’t it comforting when someone has walked a similar road before, wraps their arm around you and simply says, “I understand.” I’m so thankful to have that in Christ. Isaiah 53:3 says He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Meditate on that. He gets it. He wants you to cry out to Him, all while He carries you through it.
Pain is not something to fear or run from. Why? Because if we allow it, it will draw us closer to the most precious gift we have ever received, Christ. I was greatly impacted by this quote from Spurgeon,
“I have learned to kiss the wave that tosses me against the Rock of Ages.”
Wow. Yes. May we eventually come to the point that we can thank God for using whatever painful circumstances are necessary in order to bring us to His feet.
This article was originally posted on Jenna Bogard’s personal blog, which can be found at https://thecalltocounsel.wordpress.com/2020/08/16/gods-remedy-for-emotional-pain/.