I have taken several days lately trying to process through much of the pain the world has had to face in 2020. I surely didn't expect to walk my kids through what a tornado ripping through our community looks like, a world-wide pandemic or helping them realize that not all people believe everyone has the same worth-no matter the color of their skin. This world is certainly unpredictable. Pain and trials enter our lives always when we least expect them.
I remember when Matt was sick and we were enduring through the hardship that cancer is to a family. I wanted to slap a guy one night when I heard him flippantly say, "getting cancer is all about perspective". It is a bit about perspective but it's more about going through the pain and enduring because of the strength God gives. We must feel our pain and learn from it, grow from it and then get perspective.
Lately, I've seen many people say that these trials and pain in life are not from God. Like He has no idea how they came to be in our lives. I have no doubt that He knew how I was staring down at a medical form one day checking the Miss instead of Mrs. box. I have no doubt that He knew how I would be feeling when I had to take off my wedding ring because I didn't have a husband anymore. (no, it wasn't about the ring) He surely saw my kids feeling the empty spot at the pool the summer after their daddy went to heaven every time another kid yelled, "daddy, catch me". Right? He saw it? He ordained it? Yes, God knows even before we are born the exact number of days we will live. (Ps 139:16) We don't have to like that He allows us only a short life. We don't have to like that He allows cancer into our bodies.
But I am sick and tired (here it is, finally) of people who believe in God's sovereignty saying I'll just pray Ps 91, or Rom 8 over my situation and surely all will be well. I won't get sick, my family will be safe and I won't have to face pain in my life. God certainly can intervene in our lives and does intervene to deliver us from trails. But not every Christian is healed. Not ANY Christian is ever promised no trial or pain. Ps 91 teaches us that God looks after us. And likely a third of the book of Psalms are laments that righteous people who love God suffer things the world sees as misfortunes. Other passages in the bible tell us that God doesn't always look after us the way Ps 91 states.
I'm thinking of Job and even Jesus.
There are some important realities that can govern us in our pain and frustration...our sickness, death, pandemics...Romans chapter 8 has faithfully challenged me in this area over the last 2 years. I want to share some notes taken from an article I read on Covid-19 from Our Daily Bread.
"The Holy Spirit groans with us as we groan (8:26). Not only is it acceptable for Christians to groan; when they do, God groans with them. And that verse says that he helps us amid our weakness. We experience the nearness of God in a deep way.
God turns everything we experience into good (8:28), making us more than conquerors in all things (8:37). While we mourn and identify with Christians who suffer we don’t need to have pity then because we know that out of that suffering God is working out something beautiful.
Yes, we’re not immune to problems, but God’s love is deeper than all of that and nothing can separate us from his love 8:35, 38, 39.
People relishing the experience of loving and being loved are happy people. So like Paul wrote, while he was in Prison, we rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4), and we have learned to be content whatever happens. (Phil. 4:11)"
So, if we know Jesus, we must remember that pain, pandemics, tornadoes, sickness, children longing for their dead daddy and even an empty ring finger pushes us to Jesus even more. Death and leaving this world are actually something to look forward to because of the hope we have to be with God forever.
In February of 2018, Matt asked me, "Would it be wrong to ask the Lord to take me home?" He literally felt like cancer was keeping him prisoner and though he wanted to glorify God here in his pain, he was okay with going home to His heavenly Father so the pain could be done.
So we don't have to look for pain, wish for it or hate it. But it's normal for Christ followers and all people to feel pain and walk through trials and experience sickness and sometimes not get healing. Matt also told me that night, "When you are on the other side of this trial, you will be wiser and more beautiful and have more peace than you've ever experienced." Only Jesus knows, but I pray Matt is right.