Where is God when life hurts? 

Pain and suffering are not topics we like to talk about, but unfortunately, it’s evident all around us, whether it’s physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual. Sometimes, we can suffer secondary trauma because of the pain and suffering of others, for example, when we watch news about wars or disasters.

As Christians, we are challenged to understand how pain and suffering connect us to God. In the original creation story, God did not intend for us to experience suffering; suffering was the consequence of human disobedience, introducing pain to the world. Consequently, we all bear the repercussions of sin, whether self-inflicted or caused by others through conscious or unconscious choices.

Christians believe through God’s love for us, he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross, to give us new life. Despite his divinity, Jesus was not immune from the inherent suffering of the world. In the Bible, Jesus is described as “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3), who willingly entered this broken world, embodying suffering “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3). Given that Jesus endured suffering, it’s unrealistic to expect exemption from earthly trials. Therefore, amid pain and suffering, the question to pose to God isn’t “Why?” but rather, “What do you want me to learn through this?”

God doesn't remove our pain and suffering, he promises he will be with us

In our personal suffering, God will be teaching us something—about himself, ourselves, others, or life in alignment with his word. Whether it’s to deepen our faith, correct our attitudes, repent of sin, or mould our character into Christlikeness, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit is crucial as we navigate the purpose behind our pain.

While going through hardships, our choices may lead to sin, perpetuating further pain. Turning to Jesus becomes essential to align our hearts with God, preventing hardening caused by suffering. Acknowledging our emotions before God, we seek his help to overcome bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment, fostering growth in love for God and others. Jesus, addressing grief, assures us of overcoming troubles and finding peace, relief, comfort, and healing in him.

Reflecting on challenging situations where we’ve trusted God to bring us through, not as broken but healed and whole, reveals the deepest spiritual learning and growth. Personal experiences of God’s unfailing love, faithfulness, grace, and goodness strengthen our relationship and connection with him.

Remember, God doesn’t remove our pain and suffering, he promises he will be with us as we go through suffering. Our pain becomes a testimony, a tool for God’s glory, and a source of encouragement for those enduring similar tribulations. God, in his wisdom, doesn’t waste anything, weaving a redemptive narrative even through our suffering.

The church eagerly awaits the day when Jesus returns and “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” (Rev 21:4). Meanwhile, in a broken and suffering world, we are to be a people of hope, holding up the light of Christ so others can also put their hope in Him.

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