When The Rains Come
Life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to, or the way we think it will.
Life doesn’t always make sense; things often happen for no discernable reason.
Sometimes we don’t even see it coming.
Sometimes we are living are life the best as we can, minding our own business and the next thing we know we get a flat tire or we’re facing a brick wall or we’ve broken down. Someone dies, a relationship ends, we lose our job, some disease strikes us. Maybe some combination of the above, it seems to come out of nowhere. Suffering leaves us feeling frantic and hopeless, unprepared to live this new reality. We don’t want to face it. We just want things to be the way they were. Sometimes you cannot go back, you can only go forward. That’s how life is. It makes us wonder how a loving God can let these things happen. How a loving God can just stand by and watch us suffer, watch us face our darkness alone and unaided.
The question why becomes our mantra.
Where is God when it really hurts?
Maybe God is actually closer to us than we think.
Maybe it’s when we’re in these situations, when everything seems to be falling apart, that God reminds us how much He really loves us. Maybe it’s in our pain and loss that God is closest to us. God is right there with us, bent over us whispering, “I love you.” Maybe it’s when we seem to be furthest from the divine that we are actually caught up in the divine conspiracy, which is God’s desire and will to make us better than we used to be. Not that God causes our suffering, but He can and will use it for our benefit.
Henri Nouwen said, “We fail to see the place of suffering in the broader scheme of things. We fail to see that suffering is an inevitable dimension of life. Because we have lost perspective, we fail to see that unless one is willing to accept suffering properly, he or she is really refusing to continue in the quest for maturity.”
When we are suffering that’s all our reality is, it is all we perceive. There is nothing else. We don’t notice anything else. The sun could be shinning, there could be a rainbow on the horizon, or a beautiful lady standing right in front of us, the food we eat we don’t really taste, we don’t sense any of it, not a bit. The bitter tinge of pain and loss covers everything. We’re trapped in a fog that blinds us from of God’s true miracles. It’s in our hardest moments when God is there asking us to see the world, to step out of our little self and see what really matters. If we sit, mope, and think of nothing else but how we are hurting, we will remain trapped in it. The moment we step up out of our ordeal and enter another person’s suffering and say ‘me too’ we defeat the darkness. The moment we step out of our pain and loss to help others, we say no to suffering and yes to healing.
This past year as I have fully committed myself to Jesus has been the hardest year of my life on many levels I have been tested and challenged. I have lost a relationship. I have been unable to find a job. I have faced the areas in my life where I haven’t been living up God’s ideal. My struggles continue. Yet, I have also found that through my trails and defeats I have grown closer to Jesus and grown deeper in my commitment. I have wrestled and struggled in my faith, what it means to follow Jesus and proclaim Jesus as Lord and savior. It has not been easy, but I have not once thought of denying Jesus and going it alone. I have just let it make me a stronger, deeper person. I still have a long way to go. I don’t have it altogether and probably never will, but that’s the good news that Jesus loves me as I am, but way too much to leave me that way. Jesus is saving me from myself.
In A Grief Observed, C.S Lewis wrote, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”
Rob Bell says, “Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, ‘God, you don’t know what it’s like! You don’t understand! You have no idea what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue how much this hurts.’ The cross is God’s way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments. The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, ‘Me too.’”
Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from suffering. If anything, it makes us more prone to it. We can no longer do it our way. We can no longer ignore the world’s suffering and how some people would gladly cause others to suffer. We must take a stand. We must take the hand of our needy brothers and sisters, lead them to the cross, and show them the wonder of a God who took on flesh to reconcile the world to him. A Christian is one who loves the unlovable, includes the excluded, guides the lost, cares for the hurting, is committed to being better than they used to be, helping others do the same, and affirms that we do this through Jesus Christ.
We all hurt. We all have faced the dark night. Not suffering doesn’t make us strong; it is pushing through the darkness that strengthens us. Yet, it is not the question of why we suffer, but what we do with our suffering that matters. We could let our suffering harden our hearts to the world around us become heartless cynics or we could let our suffering make us more loving and caring persons. It is our response to suffering that makes all the difference.
So, when we’re going through the darkness and not sure how we can go on wondering where God is and if he really cares in that moment God is there, just know that God loves you and there is a way through it. Surrender to God and keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t let it ruin you; let it bless you. Pray that in the morning, the light of the new day will find a way out of the darkness and into the light and love of God. When darkness overcomes us, remember that we have a savior that loves us and will go through it with us. We are not alone.