Why Does God Allow Pain?

For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:6

Last October, I found myself in another hospital waiting room. My husband had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. He couldn’t walk or drive for 6 weeks. You don’t plan for these things. They just happen.

Sometimes they happen more frequently than others.

When I look over the last year, I can’t help thinking of how many precious family members and other loved ones have spent hours and days in hospital rooms. I have been fortunate enough to just take up space in the waiting areas. While my heart aches for them, these people I love have felt it physically.

Pain. Nausea. Discomfort. Weakness. Weariness. Fear.

In those moments of heartache and pain, we naturally grasp for an answer to a tiny yet profound question. Why?

And in this world where Christianity is often touted as a direct link to blessing and prosperity, believers can be tempted to doubt God’s promises.

I get it. I’ve been there myself, wondering if God’s Word could really be true—wondering how a loving God could allow hard things like pain, suffering, and loss.

But I’d like to take a few moments to look at difficulty from God’s perspective.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. Philippians 1:29

Beloved, scripture teaches that sometimes God grants you— and me—the gift of suffering. As a believer, a son or daughter—heir of the kingdom—God has chosen you for suffering.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:16-17

Dear one, with or without Christ, this world produces suffering. But in Christ our suffering has purpose. Suffering with Him provides the means to establish us in our inheritance—to take hold of the promises available to us in Christ as co-heirs of all that God has given us.

You see, our promises aren’t just meant for heaven. We’re supposed to experience them here. And adversity provides the opportunity for us to do that.

Stick with me here. Ephesians 1:3 promises that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” But God wants those blessings lived out “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). He wants our heavenly position to be evident on earth as He reveals His glory through us.

God’s glory becomes evident when we do what Jesus did: We face our spiritual enemy on earth and overcome.

Beloved, every spiritual blessing available to us in Christ remains a theory if we don’t grab hold of it and use it. Our trials provide an opportunity to prove our heavenly position and manifest our blessings on earth.  We conquer fear when we face it and choose faith in spite of it. We’ll only experience the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we face circumstances that rob our peace.

Our suffering allows us to live out the promise of John 16:33.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Everyone will hurt and suffer in this life. But in Christ, God has granted us a glorious opportunity! In our struggles, we can draw on our heavenly inheritance and overcome, putting our enemy firmly under our feet.

David offers a good example of this in scripture. The Philistine army had the Israelites trembling in fear because of Goliath. The giant defied their God and challenged a man to fight him. If he won, Israel would serve the Philistines.

But David knew the Word of the Lord. Intimately. He knew the inheritance available to him as a child of God. So, he didn’t let the appearance of his circumstances overpower him. He drew on God’s promises, faced Goliath head on, and established his spiritual promise of victory as his earthly reality. (See 1 Samuel 17)

Our opening scripture reveals an important truth: living water bursts forth in desert places. If God has allowed suffering in your life, dear one, it isn’t because He has abandoned you or doesn’t love you. He has provided an opportunity for you to take hold of your inheritance and live it out on this earth.

Suffering provides an opportunity to release our spiritual blessings in the earthly realm. Click To Tweet

Without the suffering of this past year, I would never have experienced the miracle of His peace. I would not have recognized the selfishness still rooted in my heart, and I wouldn’t have learned how to pray from my inheritance in Christ and see heaven move. I wouldn’t have known the joy of my Comforter, or watched spiritual chains fall from my loved ones.

God is for you, beloved. He has granted suffering as an opportunity to experience His presence and witness glory. And when glory reveals itself, suffering fades. And you experience the wonder of resurrection life.

Does Jesus Know You?

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24

 The Son rises.

God impressed those words upon my heart a few days ago as my family participated in our church’s Easter sunrise service. I had closed my eyes in worship, and while we sang, I began to feel the heat of warm rays reaching my legs as the sun crested over the treetops. And God whispered into my spirit, “the Son rises.”

He does, you know. The Day of the Lord draws nearer with each setting sun. My heart rejoices with anticipation for His approaching glory. But concern quickly follows my joy. Concern for the lost—particularly the lost within the church.

Yes, dear one. You read that correctly. Many who sit in our pews are lost. And my Father has burdened my heart for them. Which is why our recent celebration of our Savior’s resurrection seemed a perfect opportunity to write this plea.

Are you sure that Jesus knows you, beloved?

Even as I write the question, I know many will recoil from it. In a generation raised on the certainty of a magic prayer, the question seems unthinkable. Who am I to cause someone to doubt their salvation?

And yet, nowhere in scripture can I find the assurance of magic words. Instead, I find plea after plea to live by faith according the Word of God, and “…to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).”

So, I write in obedience to 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

We can say that we know Jesus, beloved. But scripture teaches that what will save us on the day of judgment is whether Jesus declares that He knows us.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23

Precious one, when Jesus walked upon this earth, He issued a warning. Nestled between teachings about bearing good fruit and building on the rock of His Word, He declared that when He returns, many will cry out in baffled surprise when He refuses them.

Indignantly, they will plead their case. They called Him Lord. They served Him, even doing mighty works in His name. Of course they belonged to Him! Yet Jesus will declare, “I never knew you; depart from me…”

He issues a similar warning in the parable of the ten virgins.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” Matthew 25:1-4

Notice that all ten believed they were betrothed to the bridegroom. All ten fully expected admittance into the wedding feast. But five of them had no oil in their lamps. Lamps without oil produce no light. Five did not examine themselves and failed to meet the test.

After a delay, the call rang out.

“’Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’” Verses 6-9

You may be tempted to judge the wise virgins’ unwillingness to share their oil. But the truth is, our salvation can’t provide someone else entry into the kingdom. Everyone must receive their oil from the Bridegroom Himself. Only He can give the Holy Spirit through an authentic encounter that results in repentant faith.

Looking like a Christian won’t make you one. Many follow people but never follow Jesus. Click To Tweet

The five virgins without oil discovered they acted too late. The bridegroom arrived while they were trying to figure out how to get oil.

“… and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” Verses 10-12

Jesus’ words in the parable echo those from Matthew 7:23. I never knew you. His next words offer a mirror with which we can examine ourselves. “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Our works in Jesus’ name mean nothing if our hearts remain bound to the lawless one. Judas offers proof of that. He preached and performed miracles in Jesus’ name, yet he never repented of the evil in his heart. Greed made him a thief and a liar, willing to sell his friend for 30 pieces of silver. Though he walked beside true disciples, lack of repentance kept him from becoming one.

So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28

We cannot follow Jesus and embrace the ways of the world. You must choose, beloved. Jesus or the world. His Word doesn’t allow for both.

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14

Repent, dear one. Leave the world and cling to Jesus. Invite Him to govern your heart, and He will count you among them.

When Jesus Speaks Your Name

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Mary Magdalene stood weeping before an empty tomb. She had come early on the first day of the week, before even the sun had risen. What she found sent her running to find the disciples. Someone had removed the stone from Jesus’ tomb.

Peter and John both ran to the site. John’s young legs made it there first, but he didn’t enter. Instead he simply stared at the empty linens that had wrapped the Lord. Peter arrived behind him and stooped to go in. John finally joined him. Bewildered, they took in the scene and returned to their homes.

But Mary couldn’t leave. She stood weeping outside, grieving yet another loss. First His life. Now His body. Finally, she entered the tomb, only to discover she wasn’t alone. Two angels in white questioned her.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” John 20:13

My throat catches a little as I read Mary’s words. They have taken away my Lord.

I can’t imagine how she must have felt. Jesus had been taken from her. Her Deliverer (Mark 16:9). Her Savior. Her Hope.

Turning around, she saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize Him, mistaking Him for the gardener. Jesus echoed the angels’ question.

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

Desperate, she pleaded, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take Him away” (verse 15). The next moment changed everything.

 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

The Word made flesh spoke her name, and suddenly, she knew. He didn’t look like the Jesus she had known. He didn’t sound the same either. She hadn’t recognized His voice when He questioned her. But when He said her name, she knew Him. She knew because she belonged to Him.

Jesus said it would be so.

“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3

Does He speak your name, beloved? Do you recognize Him when He speaks it?

Mary responded precisely how a sheep would.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). John 20:16

Jesus spoke her name, and she turned.

Believing in Jesus isn’t religion, dear one. It’s personal. He speaks, and those who belong to Him hear and respond. They know when He calls their name. They move to the sound of His Word. They allow it to lead them, even when they have to change direction. But they follow, because they know Him. And they love Him.

They belong to Him.

It strikes me that Jesus waited for Peter and John to leave before revealing Himself to Mary. The disciples didn’t see the angels or encounter their Lord that morning.

But Mary did. A woman. An ordinary woman who offered Jesus extraordinary love. And I can’t help thinking that a God who IS love, cannot withhold Himself from one who gives it so freely.

Have you offered Jesus your love, beloved? Would you grieve like Mary at the thought of someone taking Him from you? Or have you kept Him so distant you’d hardly notice?

He notices, beloved. He calls your name, and invites you to respond. He bled and died so that you could know Him. Intimately. Many know about Him, but those who belong to Him know Him. And they follow, because they love Him.

Many people know about Jesus. But those who belong to Him, know HIM. Click To Tweet

On Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. As we remember the cross and the empty tomb, let’s also remember what it bought us.

Intimacy. Love. Belonging. And the power to follow.

Oh Lord, I want to know You when You speak my name. And I want to turn to You every time. Empower me, Lord, to love You with obedience, that I may see You and proclaim like Mary, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18)

The Day I was Done, but God Wasn’t

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

I wonder if life has robbed you of hope. You know things aren’t what they should be. They’re definitely not what you want them to be.  And you’re tired.

Tired of fighting. Tired of trying. Tired of feeling.

You’re ready to give up, believing your situation is too far gone to redeem.

Let me whisper hope into your heart, beloved. No situation rests out of God’s reach. And Jesus wants to look at you to tell you, “This may be impossible for you. But it isn’t for Me.” As He said to a father desperate to save his tormented child,

“All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23

Today I’d like to share a story of hope that I pray will encourage you to draw near to Jesus and keep believing. Prayer holds the power to release divine help into earth’s challenges. Don’t give up hope when your miracle may be just around the corner.

The Day I was Done, but God Wasn’t

By Danielle Lew

It’s been a CRAZY, emotional few weeks.

Without going into details, suffice it to say,

We. Were. Done.

At least I convinced myself that I was. Done fighting for our marriage, our relationship. And plans were in motion to separate.

I had made the decision after days of endless worry and examination of everything that was “wrong” in our fifteen-year relationship and thirteen-year marriage.

I didn’t want to try anymore. In case you don’t know this: RELATIONSHIPS ARE WORK.

I confided in my friends who got to work in praying for us. They asked questions like, “Are you sure?”, and “Is this what God wants?” But they always ended with, “I’ll support you no matter what, and I’ll pray for you and your family.”

Well, after a day of “heated”—sometimes mean—conversations, a trip to a lawyer for information, scheduled tours of apartments/townhouses, and opening new bank accounts, we sat down to make decisions about kids.

And I can’t exactly tell you what happened next…. other than prayers were answered.

I got humble and vulnerable.

And he got passionate, honest, genuine, and communicated things I’ve not heard or didn’t want to hear.

I looked at my part. How I have failed in certain areas. Not at him—his shortcomings—but mine.

And realized I have not yet done near enough work on myself to be the best wife and mom I can be. I have been selfish at times, and certainly no saint.

And my husband is no monster.

It takes two to make a marriage work, and when one falls down, the hope is it’s not too far down, and we can help the other up.

But here’s the thing. Well, a thing. There are many “things ” I could say.

I actually came face to face with what I need to do to grow and change.

Crisis can be used to our benefit if we look for the lesson!!!!

I would have missed that lesson had I left, or if I didn’t listen with an open heart to what my husband was saying.

In a couple, we each have things we need to work on. If we’re so focused on the faults of the other, we don’t see the faults of our own!

When I recognized that I had things to work on, I felt empowered!!!! It was good news! Because I can change me (through God’s help). I can’t change my husband, but I can change ME!

Truth hurts. But in pain we grow.

So, the point is, we’re not done fighting.

We will claim this victory over these challenges and we will give the glory to God for the restoration.

Because only He could have changed my heart and mind from my decision to leave.

And I’m grateful. The past 48 hours have been the best days of our marriage… I’m looking for many more to come.

We almost quit 5 minutes before the miracle happened.


Miracles happen every day. Today, I’m sharing ours with you.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I’ll bet that if we nurture our relationship and keep God at the center of it, we will keep growing and have one heck of a testimony!!!