Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” John 13:7 ESV
I need to be honest with you. The last few weeks have been hard. People I love are hurting. Amid the usual struggles of life’s joys and hardships, loss and heartache have descended in a torrent.
A friend and sister servant in ministry at my church received a call recently that shattered her world. Her beautiful 23-year-old daughter had gone to sleep the night before like she did every other night. Only this time, she never woke up—at least not here. She closed her eyes to the blackness of this earth and opened them to the splendor of heaven and the beautiful face of Jesus.
Unimaginably wonderful for her. Devastatingly sorrowful for those left to grieve her.
Two other families close to me have lost loved ones to the ravages of cancer. And I recently received word that the disease has come calling on one of my dear family members for a second time.
Our human nature begs the answer to a desperate question: Why? Why must the body of Christ endure such pain? How do we reconcile God’s love with so much suffering?
I don’t have an answer, dear one, at least not one that will satisfy. If I did not know my God so well, I might be tempted to question Him myself.
But I do know Him well. I know the tenderness of His love. I know His comfort in my own brokenness. I know He is faithful, and I know His Word remains true.
I also know He wastes nothing and intends to bring a good work from every pain.
I recently read this quote from Christian philosopher Dallas Willard:
“Winter comes, but nothing irredeemable can happen to you. Nothing beyond the redemption of God can happen to you.”
Do you believe in the power of a God who redeems?
Beloved, God didn’t choose for this world to become ravaged by the evils of sin. Man chose it. Adam, chasing after a desire whispered into his heart by the deceiver, chose to disobey God and step out from under the safe covering of His protection. And now this world still reaps the consequence of that choice.
You see, that’s the nature of sin, dear one. It grows. It becomes stronger. Eventually it ends in death.
…desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:15
And now in this world so decayed and corrupted by sin, pain abounds. It leaves its mark on both guilty and innocent. But God never intended this pain for us; Satan did. Why? Because Satan hates what God loves, and God loves people.
Maybe we should take a moment to ponder the enormity of John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Love led God to give His Son so you and I could live. Really live. Sin and death were never His choice for us. He created us in life and chose to offer it again, poured out on a cross in love to redeem man’s mistake. Jesus suffered death Himself so He could rescue us from it. Unbelievable.
We have trouble grasping love that gives like that. We can’t wrap our mind around such utter selflessness. So we hesitate to trust it.
But you can trust it, dear one. God loves perfectly—even when we can’t see or understand what He’s doing at the time. And He will never allow a heartache that He can’t redeem and bring something beautiful from. Never.
My heart remains full of hope because I know that God isn’t working evil in this world. He’s redeeming it. We’re still dealing with the consequences of our choice, but He remains faithful.
“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.” John 16:33
Jesus has overcome what we cannot. Beloved, as long as we live on this corrupted earth, we will experience suffering. But in Christ we have glorious hope! Whether we experience His healing touch here or when we see Him face to face, we win. Hope abounds. Love overcomes. Life triumphs.
And for those of us left suffering in this broken world, Jesus offers the means to overcome. When we run to Him in our pain instead of from Him, He redeems it. He exchanges our ashes for beauty, our mourning for gladness, our despair for praise (Isaiah 61:3).
What the enemy intends for evil, God desires to rescue and redeem. Will you let Him, dear one?