When Life Hurts…

Posted: January 22, 2013 in Pastor Posts

Our high school youth group returned from our annual “Winter Blast” retreat on Sunday. I love retreats. There is just something about getting away for a few days and connecting with God and each other without the distractions and busyness of everyday life. Our topic for this year’s retreat was “When Life Hurts: The Problem of Pain, Evil, and Suffering.” As a youth staff we felt like this would be a good thing for our students to engage knowing that we all at some time have faced or will face pain, suffering, and tragedy.

Over the weekend we viewed the topic of pain and suffering as a puzzle. When you have all of the pieces to a puzzle the picture is clear, easy to understand, and there isn’t any mystery. But the topic of evil and suffering is like a puzzle missing some pieces. God has not given us all of the pieces so that means we aren’t able to see the entire picture. We can’t and won’t ever have all the answers or reasons to why there is suffering and pain in the world. However, God has given us some of the pieces and allowed us to see some of the picture. Although the picture is incomplete I truly believe what God has revealed about pain and suffering in His Word is enough to satisfy our hearts in this life.

Over the weekend we talked about various pieces of the puzzle that God has revealed when it comes to pain and suffering but there is one in particular that I want to share with you today. Here it is:

Although suffering is bad, God can use it for good.

Although I have heard this said before, it never really clicked until I became a dad. In the first few weeks of my daughter’s life she, like all babies, needed to get certain shots and vaccines. She also had a “tongue-tie” which was making it difficult for her to nurse. So in the first few weeks of her life I had to hold her as the doctors gave her multiple shots and clipped a piece of flesh from underneath her tongue. Both of these things obviously didn’t feel good and caused her to cry hysterically. In her little baby brain I’m sure she was thinking things like, “Why would they do this to me? Can’t they see how much this hurts? This is awful!” But being her dad, I knew that there was a plan and purpose to it all. I love her very much and want nothing but what’s best for her. I knew that what she was experiencing was very painful but I also knew that they were necessary protect her and benefit her in the future. As her dad, I knew that. But to her, it was just a miserable time of suffering that didn’t make any sense at all.

Now here is the point; if I can understand this as a finite human father, why couldn’t God, the infinite Creator of the universe, also understand this and be doing the same exact thing with us? What if we are all babies in the arms of a loving father who knows what’s best for us and is allowing suffering because He has a bigger plan and purpose that is for our own good? What if God is allowing or even using suffering to do something amazing in our life that couldn’t happen otherwise? What if God, like a loving father, is holding us during our suffering and saying “Trust me, it’s going to be ok, I know what’s best and I have a perfect plan.”

We see this in scripture, don’t we? Think about the story of Joseph, talk about a guy who suffered:

  • Mocked and hated by his brothers
  • Beaten up and thrown in a pit by his brothers
  • Sold into slavery by his brothers
  • Falsely accused of rape
  • Thrown into prison because of that false accusation

Joseph’s life was anything but pain-free, but look at what He says on the other side of it all.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

Joseph believed that God was a loving father who had a plan and purpose the entire time, even during the suffering. There are examples like this all throughout the Bible. Do you know what the best example is? Do you know what the most amazing example is?

The crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

This was the worst thing that has ever happened in our universe. God came down to earth as a man, Jesus Christ, and he suffered and died a terribly painful death. This was the worst thing that has ever happened. But what is amazing is that the worst thing that has ever happened, God dying, led to the BEST thing that has ever happened; forgiveness, salvation, and relationship with God made possible for anyone who would believe! The gospel is the prime example of God using pain, suffering, and evil for a greater good and a perfect purpose.

God has done this all throughout history so what makes you think he isn’t doing it in your life when you suffer?

Suffering is real and there is no doubt that it hurts, but I find great comfort in knowing that God is a loving Father who has a plan and purpose for everything, even when I can’t see it.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Written by Pastor Ben Potloff

  1. Jody Sneeuwjagt says:

    It is a pleasure to have been at this Winter Blast to have heard first hand these key points about our Savior. You prepared an amazing message and God continues to use your messages for amazing growth with the students. Awesome job!

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