One of the greatest blessings Christ has given my family is amazing neighbors. Mathew uncle and his family have definitely shown my family and I God’s love and how it has no boundaries. He is a man that the moment you meet him can just feel how much he loves the Lord and how all he wants to do is love on others. When my brother and I were younger, he would take us to VBS at his church every single summer. My senior year, I had to give a speech at graduation and I don’t think anyone was more proud of me than Mathew uncle. I invited both him and aunty to my graduation, but they had to leave soon after the ceremony ended and I didn’t get to see them. Later that day in the evening, someone randomly rang our doorbell and my dad opened the door and told me someone was here to see me. When I got to the door I saw Mathew uncle standing there with a card and the most beautiful bouquets of red roses I’ve ever seen. He did these random acts of kindness all the time and when we least expected it. He is one of the very few people that were encouraging and supportive when I decided to pursue elementary education and to be a teacher rather than nursing. This is a man that honestly loves the Lord and just wants to share that love with everyone.
On September 9, 2015 I got a text from a good friend telling me that Mathew uncle had passed away that morning. Yes, he had been sick lately, but we didn’t expect him to be taken away from us this quickly. I started asking God, “Lord why now? Why so quickly?” I went into a stage and confusion and really not understanding why the Lord had taken him at this time.
But soon after I realized what I was doing…I was questioning God. Why would I, a mere human that is sinful and lost question a loving, good, and all knowing God? What should I have done? I should have ran to the Lord first and surrendered myself to Him and asked Him to give me comfort and put peace in my heart. But instead, I tried to run away from having to cope and process everything that had happened by trying to distract myself with homework and responsibilities. However, it didn’t take long before I realized I was hurting myself more and more. I need Christ to comfort me, to heal me, to give me understanding. I changed the tense in the past sentence because this isn’t something that is in my past, this is something going on right now, in present time.
God feels what we feel.
Sometimes I think we forget, God knows what pain feels like and Jesus experienced suffering, both emotional and physical. I think we forget that God sent his one and only Son to DIE on the CROSS for people that were sinful and selfish. So when we go through hardships and times of pain, we can go to the Lord with a confidence knowing that he “gets us.” We should long to surrender all of our burdens and sufferings to Him because we love him. If you love someone, wouldn’t you want to talk to them? Wouldn’t you want to tell them what’s wrong and how you feel so they can help you through it? Same concept here, but He already knows all our thoughts and what we feel, yet He still wants to hear from us. We don’t have a God that just sympathizes for us, we have a God that empathizes with us and gives us comfort.
“Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested…” -Hebrews 2:18 [NLT]
Trust He has a purpose.
We get so carried away about our lives and what we go through, we forget that we have a God that is good and doesn’t allow anything to happen without there being a purpose. We forget that He feels our pain when we experience it and wants us to call out to Him for help so He can give us comfort and healing. In Romans, Paul reminds us that God works everything out for those who love Him, but we take that out of it’s meaning sometimes. We have to remember that things work out according to His plan and not what we have in mind. Even for those who are strong in their faith and are not shaken by the world, when things take a sudden turn in the opposite direction, we all wonder why things happen in the timing they do. Christ doesn’t allow certain things to happen because He doesn’t love us, He allows them to happen because He loves us. For us, we might perceive certain events as “bad,” but that’s because we base it on our understanding which is nothing compared to the Lord’s.
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” -Romans 8:28 [NLT]
Suffering grows us.
In James 1:2-4, we’re reminded that when troubles come our way, we’re called to use it as an opportunity to turn it into rejoicing and to show God’s glory. James reminds us that these situation grow our faith and build our endurance. But these are not our first thoughts when we experience suffering. My response to the passing of my neighbor wasn’t how Christ calls me to respond. But I soon realized I couldn’t continue without allowing God to heal me which allowed me to turn my suffering into rejoicing.
People always think of suffering negatively. But it honestly shapes us more and allows us to experience God’s love much more than when times are always upbeat and happy.
“I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.” -Elisabeth Elliot
God’s love is greater than any kind of suffering and hardship that we ever experience. When we don’t allow His love to heal and do its work is when suffering becomes negative and tears us apart.
We as followers of Christ are encouraged and called to share God’s love to everyone through our words, deeds, and serving. When we suffer, it grows us and we experience so many different emotions and trials…other people go through similar situations. We are called to show Christ’s love by giving comfort to others who are hurting and share our stories with them about how God’s strength and love has healed us.
A song that really helped me understand the importance of trusting God and understanding He has a purpose in suffering and everything we experience is “Steady Heart” by Steffany Gretziner. This song really helps us understand how even when things are dark and we don’t know what’s going to happen next, we are to still trust Him and depend on Him to lead us.
Am I still hurting? Yes. Are my eyes still puffy and my nose still runny? Yes. But I know the Lord is comforting me and I can feel His presence. I know it’s going to take time. Time doesn’t heal wounds, but Christ heals wounds over time and in His timing. I’m confident my loved one is with Christ and I rejoice that He is reunited with his Father. Christ loves each one of us more than we can imagine and when we go to Him with our sorrows, He hears us and puts peace in our hearts.
I hope those who are suffering or going through a season of pain understand how important it is to draw near to the Lord and depend on Him more than anyone or anything else. And remember, there’s always a purpose for when we suffer. We may not see it now, but the Lord has greater plans in mind than we can ever imagine, be confident in trusting Him.