“Where is God When it Hurts?”
By Jay Troutman
Pain has many faces. I recently visited a friend at the hospital. She was in great pain despite the drugs but, worse than that, her emotions were off the charts. She had already suffered a fractured knee in the past year along with financial difficultly and suddenly a repeat performance only worse! The shattered knee will take 3 months of recuperation at the least plus, financial strain? You bet! I returned to my office to read an email, Diane’s tumor has returned. The number of singles (not to mention everyone else) in job crisis is nearly an everyday occurrence. Another friend has lost a loved one in a tragic accident. Another has a child with a troubling illness.
I am supposed to give comfort and counsel speak words of wisdom and peace. More often than not I leave with tears in my eyes because of my ability to do little more than hold their hand and say a prayer that feels hollow because of the circumstances.
I return home and turn on the news. I don’t need to tell you what it was filled with; you have seen with your own eyes the floods, tornados, fires, murders, plagues, suffering and death w/out end. So where is God in the middle of all this? He is right there in the middle.
Let’s put one thing straight from the get-go. Pain and suffering was never God’s plan. Satan was the mastermind of all that is happening today. God created everything good including man and gave him a great job that included an office with a view (the garden) and a job with travel (finding and naming all the animals). He gave man an eye-poppin’ helper and free - on the job training. He provided trouble free living arrangements and long term benefits. There was no retirement to worry about because man was not created to die. Sorrow, pain, and death came as a result of man falling into the trap set by Satan; the same one who has continued to plague him since the beginning of time.
God loved man so much that he found a way to redeem him and pay the penalty of sin. Jesus, as Philip Yancey said in his book “Where is God When it Hurts” was the only man in history that planned his own birth, life, and death and here is what he chose. He chose a poor peasants life. He had to “make-do” with what he had all his life. He had times of hunger and loneliness, suffered prejudice and persecution. “He was tempted in all things just like we are and yet w/out sin.” (Heb. 4:15)
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus lived in the same dust, blood, sweat, and tears as the rest of us. Not above us, not” way out there somewhere”, but at the same level, eye to eye and shoulder to shoulder. Best of all he did it perfectly in spite of the betrayal, mocking, dissention and desertion of friend and persecution by his enemies.
God didn’t plan for us to suffer; but when suffering began at the very start, he not only planned an escape but he came down in the middle of our suffering and partook of the same suffering at the maximum level! Where is God? Right here standing beside you with tears in his eyes saying “Hang on a little longer. I know the world is hard now but, take heart, I have overcome the world.”
He has never asked us to do something he hasn’t already done. When your faith is tested and times are hard remember. He has suffered before you so that you could one day say as John did in Rev. 21:1, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth…….. 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."