A friend messaged me and said she was trying to trust God again. Something painful had happened in her life and suddenly she was confused: why didn't God intervene and prevent it from happening?
I have been there too. And while I empathize emotionally, it shows our very flawed perception of God. It assumes that we are good and God is good only when I live pain-free in a broken world.
The Bible tells us something very different. It tells us that we have been profoundly affected by rejecting God, every part of our lives are broken: our thought process, our hearts, our relationships, even our thoughts of God. It tells the history of people rejecting God over and over again because they'd lost sight of what was really good.
But God doesn't want us to stay that way. The entire Old Testament is the story of God pursuing His people to rescue them from the power of evil. It's a story of Him always coming with love to bring life to broken people. He is the same God now, still pursuing His people faithfully, always out of love creating new life and rescuing us from the power of sin. He is good and without Him we have no goodness.
So what about my friend? Why is she hurting if God is always rescuing? I've asked that too. And while there is always mystery in suffering, we can hold fast to what we know:
● God is an overflowing fountain of good. How do we know? He tells us so and His track record shouts it from the rooftops. We can trust Him more than we can trust ourselves, without His grace, we cannot experience a drop of goodness. This means that He will use every single painful experience in your life and transform it into growth and new life even when you feel confused and overwhelmed (Romans 8:31-33).
● We don't get to escape living in a fallen world. Even as believers, we should expect pain and brokenness in our lives because we are living in a broken world. Jesus, Himself, didn't get to escape the brokenness of this world! The good news is that God is with us in it, not as a bystander, but as a tender Shepherd, faithfully leading us over rough paths to bring us life (Romans 8:20, 21).
● His grace is especially present in your pain. Our moments of pain are opportunities for rich measures of His grace. We are usually so busy trying to create a satisfying life on earth, that we forget God, the only one who can really satisfy our souls. Not only does He give His powerful presence in our pain, He promises to carry us through it and work hope from it (Romans 8:26, 35).
● There will be an end to your pain. Your present pain is very real. And not only does God care and enter into that pain with you, He promises that one day it will end. God is working His rescue in our hearts, through the joyful and painful things of life, until one day that rescue will be fully realized when He wipes away every single tear from your eye. Even though our problems may be overwhelming, at that moment they will seem like nothing when you realize the overwhelming glory of your new home and your God (Romans 8:18).
Whenever we feel wronged by God, we need to get back to the truth of the gospel. Tim Keller very succinctly said: "We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”