Searching Through Suffering

Life is not fair. We live in a world where innocent people die in car crashes, where good parents have children on drugs, where people who seem to live healthy lives get terminal cancer. When these things happen, we must admit that things are NOT going to be okay. Looking at it from every angle, in spite of the t-shirts, or the social media posts, or the euphemisms of saying we are going to “win our battle,” there is not a silver lining to the cloud. And certainly please stay away from quoting the verse that says “God is working these things for good” Romans 8:28.

Because these things are not good.

Unless perhaps, we don’t understand what “good” really is…

Perhaps God has a different idea of what good looks like than I do. My prayers and hopes and dreams revolve around things like having a happy family, being healthy, prosperity, going on an awesome vacation. That’s my idea of good and what I expect when God blesses me. But if God is good, and I have no doubt that he is, then his definition must be different than mine.

Isn’t it an interesting thing how what I consider to be “good” and “blessings” actually are things that separate us from God? They are things that perhaps unintentionally and perversely, lead us to believe that we no longer need God. These are things like enough money (or maybe too much), enough food (or too much), enough hobbies (or too much), or too much of everything as well as the absence of disease and absence of trials.

But on the other side, it is when we suffer and fall to our knees that we find a desperate need for a Savior. And of course, God longs more than anything else to draw us closer to him. He wants nothing more for all to come to trust in him and to obey the gospel.

What if perhaps, “health” in God’s view does not refer to the absence of disease, but instead, it looks to someone who completely relies on God every day for their existence. Since God is good and since he see’s things from an eternal perspective, what if he sees our health in a spiritual way instead of something to do with our physical bodies. Maybe in God’s view “wealth” isn’t a savings account in a bank or a fancy car. Maybe true wealth is understanding that family, friends, and purpose in life are actually the richest gifts God gives to us. Maybe we become rich when we truly realize how little we need stuff and start to live more simply. What is wealth is the exact opposite of what we always thought. Maybe in God’s dictionary, a “blessing” isn’t a concept we really understand. What if saying we are blessed when we speak of our health, jobs, children, and good fortune causes pain to those struggling with infertility, cancer, rebellious children, poverty, and loneliness, because it implies that God has withheld his blessing form these people. Are suffering people really not blessed?

Absolutely not.

Therefore we must seek God’s dictionary. We cannot make sense of the pain and suffering of good people when we hear these religious people who say God has richly blessed those who have no problems. We need a God who does not choose favorites.

So what does God’s dictionary say?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3-10

So when you see pain and suffering. Please remember that God has not forsaken us; as a matter of fact, he is right there.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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