Where is God When it Hurts?
This has been a heartbreaking week for people in our community. A young girl lost her battle with cancer. A little boy drowned at summer camp. A loving husband and father of two sweet girls passed away without warning. There are so many people around me who are hurting. My heart is broken for the families that are dealing with these incredible losses.
I’m in a place where things seem out of control. I can’t wrap my brain around why things like this happen. Since I don’t have these answers right now, I’m choosing to remind myself of who my Heavenly Father is and what He has promised.
1. He is with us.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
This verse feels cliché because it’s always read at funerals, but really read it. It’s beautiful! I imagine my enemies nearby, and God’s like, “Let’s eat.” What? That’s crazy right? We can’t eat because we’ll be too busy running away from our enemies. “Nope. Let’s eat.” We have nothing to fear. He’s with us. In our scariest moments, He’s there. When we’re on our knees, wailing in grief, He’s there. He’s anointing our heads with oil and leading the way. He’s with us.
2. He cares about our broken hearts
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Since this is a quick verse, it feels like a throw away, but if you read all of Psalm 147, it’s all about how awesome God is. It goes on to say, “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.” Have you ever met a celebrity and ended up being disappointed in his or her character? He has a lot of power and the public has deemed him awesome for some reason and instead of using that power for good, he believes he's awesome and expects others to serve him? In contrast, this Psalm talks about the God of the universe. He determines the number of stars and calls them by name. And you know what else He does? He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. That’s significant. Take heart. Your all-powerful Heavenly Father wants to heal your sadness and brokenness.
3. He has a plan.
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
When tragedy is raw, these words are tough to take. But over time, they are comforting. God will use your heartache for His purpose. When your ready, jot that down and look for ways He’s redeeming your pain.
4. He’s not going anywhere.
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38
In hard times, this is a great promise. He’s not going to say “peace out” when things get tough. He’s not going anywhere. Take comfort in that. He’s sticking around.
A Quick Note: If you are going through a tragedy, well-meaning friends will often quote the Book of Job to comfort you. Beware! This is usually the result of a concordance-type search and the verses are usually terrible advice. Why? Job suffers unimaginable tragedy. His friends stop by and stay with him for 7 days and don't say anything. Then, they start talking and all of their advice is bad. People will often quote their awful advice thinking Job's friends are speaking for God. They are not. For instance, they say the death of Job's children must have been a result of either his or his children's sins. There are something like 37 chapters of bad advice. God calls them out for not speaking the truth about Him. He even has them make a sacrifice to pay for their misdeeds.
There are a couple of reasons I mention this. First, the best thing Job's friends did was draw near to him. Mourn with him and keep their mouths shut for 7 days. Second, people aren't perfect, so they will not deal with your tragedy perfectly. Have grace with them when they attempt to use the Bible to comfort you. If their advice comes from Job, be skeptical. Thank them for caring enough to reach out. If you're trying to comfort a friend, take a lesson from the friends when they stayed quiet. Often, your friend needs to know you're there. She needs a listening ear and someone who will hold her hand as she cries.
Please pray for my city. I don’t know why we’ve been hit so hard by tragedy this week, but I know who God is and I’m choosing to stand on his promises. Please comment below if you have anything you could use prayer for.