Sometimes it seems no one understands what we’re going through. When people fail us, or forget us, or even betray us, we’re left alone in the ashes of a reality we never expected or wanted.
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In those intense moments of loneliness, confusion, and pain, we ask God for one thing more than anything else. Relief from suffering.
But when relief is denied, we begin the difficult journey of resisting the notion that God is a cruel sovereign who toys with our lives. After all, He could stop it all in moment. After everything else but God gets stripped away from our lives, we begin realize that the Lord may want to give us something more—and much greater—than relief.
In those moments, God becomes more real to us than we ever would have known any other way.
God Reaches to Us in our Pain
The most significant way God bridged the gap between our imperfect lives and His holiness came about when He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins—and to rise again. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the only bridge for that gap (1 Timothy 2:5).
But the benefits of that bond with God are more than eternal. Jesus’ suffering accomplished more than our atonement. His experience and ascension to heaven have provided an ongoing benefit in our struggles with loneliness, confusion, and pain.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. —Hebrews 4:15
One of our greatest temptations we face comes when circumstances tempt us to doubt God’s goodness. Even Jesus asked from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). In spite of His questioning, Jesus committed Himself to the Father (Luke 23:46).
We need to make that same connection.
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4 Things God May Want to Give You More than Relief from Suffering
Along our journey, God gives us more than simply relief. I can think of at least 4 blessings He gives us:
- We grasp that we are not in this alone. Jesus understands our weaknesses, rejection, and temptations, because He experienced the same as a human (Hebrews 2:18). In fact, Christ experienced suffering to a greater extent than any of us ever will, for we suffer as sinners. Jesus suffered as One who never sinned. Because of His intense suffering, He is able to help us when we suffer, because He knows what we’re going through.
- We gain a passion to keep going. The pain we experience from rejection or significant loss in life is our mid-journey moment between birth and glory. Rather than discourage us, the loneliness and confusion and weakness drive us to keep going—knowing that our affections are designed for satisfaction in another world.
- We gain a compassion for others who hurt. God may allow you to hurt now so you can learn how to help many others with their hurt (2 Cor. 1:3-5). That’s what He did with Christ. Having suffered, Jesus knows how to help us when we suffer. How does He do that? He provides mercy and grace to those who draw near and ask (Hebrews 4:16). We draw near and pray to God through Jesus. That’s what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. It means we’re praying through our priest and mediator, Jesus Christ.
- We shed our idolatrous dependence on people. If we look to people to give us the satisfaction only God can give, we will see ourselves as victims. It’s all about us. But if we realize that while we’re here, we will experience hurt, rejection, and loss—just as the Son of God did—we’ll quit expecting the perfection now that only heaven will bring. Instead, we’ll love people more and need them less.
What are your fears? What are your hurts and needs? There is at least One who truly understands your pain. Because Jesus is interceding for you as a Christian, you may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that you may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
And when relief is delayed, remember that God may want to bless you with something more—and much greater—than simply relief.
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This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.
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