In the Face of Pain

Photo of Bible belonging to Billy Graham (taken at the BG Library in Charlotte, NC)

Just the other day...there were shootings in theaters and schools, bombings at marathons, hijacking of airplanes, and a horrific day when towers fell. Someone lost their five year old, precious daughter who had just learned to read. Another, their son, who had brought home straight A's on his report card. Still another lost a father who had been the proud recipient of a "World's Best Dad" mug last Father's Day. And for another family, there is a lost mother, one full of hopes and dreams, the longings of her heart now existing only in treasured memories and tattered journals. Sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends...gone.

So much loss. So much hatred. So much evil.

I've known something of pain in my lifetime...of waking up to a new reality and how loss can hurt to the core. The sin of another individual or group brings consequences and ripple effects and leaves far more damage in its wake than sometimes seems bearable. If a soul can actually ache, it happens in times like these...when there's so much loss, to stay in bed and hide under the covers seems the only reasonable response.

Hurt like that always begs the question...God, where are You?

I can tell you only what I know.

He is near.

He has not left. He has not abandoned us. He is not distancing Himself, nor is He removing His hand.

He is the best counselor and friend one could ask for, sitting with us in our pain...mourning with us...waiting until we are strong enough to move forward, encouraging us every step of the way. He helps us through dark times and what's even better, for those that love Him, He takes what the enemy meant for evil and turns it around for good!

Only God can take the darkest moments of our lives and turn them into tales of triumph!

In such times, whether in personal pain or struggling through heartbreak as a nation, we make things worse when we focus so much on the bad, on the hurt. Stare at it too long, and bitterness, anger, and depression will invade every space in the human heart that can be found. Bitterness will steal our joy. Anger will fester. Depression will become as destructive as death itself.

The very best thing for us to do...as simplistic as it may sound...is to follow in the footsteps of our Savior and walk down the path of complete forgiveness. Easier said than done, right? I know. I have been there...and because I've been there I can tell you, it is necessary. Limp, stumble, fall down the path if you have to, but forgive...and when you try to pick up bitterness and harbor anger again...forgive one more time. When depression knocks at your door because of the evil you have experienced, answer it with forgiveness. Today, tomorrow, and the day after that, forgive...again and again...as much as it takes.

For the kind of love that triumphs over evil is this kind of love...the love Christ modeled for us when He willingly suffered excruciating pain so we could know the sweet taste of forgiveness ourselves.

Today, when you wonder where God is or what good can possibly come of such tragedies...remember 2000 years ago, there was a dark day in history when all hope seemed lost. The God-man spilled His blood, breathed His last, and was placed in a sealed tomb. For a moment, it seemed to all that yes, evil had the upper hand.

Then Sunday came...

the day Christ walked out of the grave, victorious, securing our freedom for all eternity!!!

Ultimately, for a Christ-follower, evil never wins and it can only gain a foothold in your life if you let it. Don't let it.



Love even though it hurts.

Turn from bitterness in the face of tragedy. Rest in the fact that God is near, ever-present and ready to help in times of need. Know that if you love Him, turn to Him, and commit it all to Him...He will turn even the most horrific evil into good...miraculously...as only He can.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14 

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