INTERJECTION OF HUMAN SUFFERING
The human experience is so susceptible to multifarious forms of pain that one could easily question whether or not its existence is merely a cruel joke. It can be difficult to accept how a loving God would allow suffering to exist, questioning His discernment of our ability to endure. We may even build acrimony towards 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
We find ourselves debating whether the burdens God believes we can bear begin to cross the threshold of our limitations. As Christ-followers, sometimes the very roots of our existence come into question as our experiences become brittle, undermining our sense of reality as we wonder whether there is any meaningful lesson left to learn from more pain. It is about the nature of this dark place, where the motive of the soul to continue enduring faints into a distant glow, that I would like to explore.
THE DARK CLOUD OF ULTIMATUM
What makes the topic of human pain so difficult to is that there aren’t sufficient words to relieve the severity that it brings our lives. Besides, ultimately, we aren’t looking for words to explain away suffering, rather, we’re desperate for a remedy to the aftermath of trauma and chaos.
For those of us who are exhausted, where rest itself doesn’t seem to suffice as ample closure, darkness begins to rain in over the remainder of our inner-space, which seems abandoned due to grief, angst, and despair. At that point, we find ourselves turning in every direction, bewildered by how we ended up in a place so dreary, hurting, and unwelcome that we can barely handle another minuscule thought.
INEFFABLE NATURE OF LOSS
Loss is one of the leading triggers of pain in the human experience. Whether it is the death of a loved one, or the loss of an important relationship, loss causes tremendous suffering, sometimes even affecting the body as a result of its impact on the mind. God doesn’t want us to suffer, but He allows it because He wants us to draw near to Him and depend on Him with everything; our darkness and our victories.
While we are in the middle of trauma, loss, and suffering, one of the most meaningful truths we need in order to endure is knowing we are not alone. By feeling alone, the journey to growth and healing not only feels as far away as the east is from the west, it also seems as though we are meant to suffer without help. But this isn’t the design that God created for us as His children. Jesus meant for the church to be our support system in times of need so that we would have people to lift us up when we are incapacitated by life (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 1 John 1:7, Galatians 6:2). Otherwise, grief, loss, and sadness overwhelm us as we implode in the face of adversity. We may think, if Jesus overcame the world, then why does it hurt so much?
THE SECRET POWER OF VULNERABILITY
Suffering is a cruel joke if it doesn’t lead anywhere outside of itself. But Jesus doesn’t allow suffering just to leave us in the dark. In the midst of our worst pain, Jesus is aware of everything. We suffer when we can’t feel His presence amidst the consequential chaos of living in a fallen world—full of distraction, corruption, and fear. Fear keeps us from believing more easily that Jesus loves us despite the pain we suffer from. Fear keeps us from trusting in others to help us during our most challenging tribulations. Fear is how we know love is a threat in the face of struggle; if love were so powerless, then it wouldn’t be the remedy to loss—and if love were not enough, we wouldn’t be afraid of the vulnerability it takes to experience it.
BEAUTY FOR ASHES
The significance of pain is found in the way God uses our worst experiences and brings us closer to Him. He uses our pain to build us up again. Our design is to be built up in relationship with Christ, and that despite our suffering, we would find ourselves made complete by His love. In other words, when we suffer, it is not purposeless just because it hurts. Our pain one of the triggers that leads us back to Jesus, our Healer and Redeemer. Suffering in life isn’t meant to make us question God’s goodness, it is permitted in order for us to witness God’s goodness in action, healing and restoring what is fallen. God isn’t evil for allowing suffering, He is good because He uses the suffering we endure and creates beauty from its ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
PURPOSEFUL SUFFERING, AND INFINITE JOY
At some point, we all suffer from some form of pain. Suffering is inevitable because of the fallen world we live in. The Good News is that we don’t have to suffer alone, and that God will use our pain and make us complete.
As much as is the weight of pain we experience, that much more is the great level of joy we experience when God brings us out of our pain and places us on solid ground. (Psalm 40:2)
Suffering, trauma, and pain do not have the last say; Jesus has the last say, and His gift of salvation to us by grace defeats all of sin, death, and corruption. That means that because of Jesus, we can anticipate the joy of being brought out of our adversities through faith, support, and trust in His loving sovereignty over our lives. Our pain is not a waste of time. God will bring joy in the morning (Psalm 30).
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