There’s a couple things Christians say that are really just lies.
Some people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
Tell that to my friend whose doctor told him he had cancer and would be dead in less than two years.
Tell that to the lady with four kids whose husband left her.
Tell that to the husband who has watched his wife die a slow death from Alzheimer’s for the past five years.
Some people say, “If you live right, God will bless you with a comfortable life.
That’s what Job’s friends told him after he lost everything.
It’s what we’ve been taught in American churches.
It’s the teaching the Pharisees fought with Jesus about.
We don’t live in a perfect world.
It’s ravaged by sin, decay, and ruin. Pain is an inescapable part of that.
I’ve had my share of pain. When I had the accident that ended my driving career, the following weeks were awkward. I knew God loved me. I knew He forgave me. But the looming cloud of failure reared it’s ugly head over and over again. I applied for one job after another and received one rejection after another. It felt like walking uphill with a backpack full of boulders.
Here are some common questions we have when life sucks.
Why doesn’t anyone seem to care?
Your friends ask how you’re doing, and that’s nice. But it seems like they grimace and look away when you share your heart. Some of them might duck into the crowd when they see you coming. Others who called don’t do it as much.
So you can add the feeling of rejection to your list of hurts.
The truth behind this problem is that when you wake up in the morning, you’re not thinking about anyone else. You’re thinking about yourself. You whine about not wanting to get up. You dream of how good that steaming mug of coffee will taste. You check the weather to see what you should wear. During the day, you think about what you have to get done. When you’re in traffic, you are offended when someone gets in front of you and drives slower than you want to.
You get the point.
Adam and Eve thought of themselves when they ate the fruit God told them not to eat. Abraham and Isaac thought of themselves when they lied to the King about their wives. Moses thought of himself when he killed the Egyptian.
It’s been going on a long time.
Jesus lived the perfect life you couldn’t and wouldn’t live. He died the death you deserved so you could live with Him forever. And He rose so you could rise above the guilt, selfishness, and idols that ensnare you.
Once you know how much Jesus cares for you, you can freely love others.
Why does criticism hurt?
You spent 20 hours painting the perfect portrait. Nobody buys it. The critics say it looks cartoonish.
You give the best presentation of your life. Your boss says, “It was too long.” The client likes you but doesn’t want to pay what you’re asking.
You plan the perfect dinner for your spouse. He comes home in a bad mood and gripes that you burned the chicken. He blows out the candle and heads to the couch to read the paper.
Criticism hurts most when you’ve wrapped your personal value into something you’ve created. When someone belittles it, it cuts like a sword thrust into your heart.
Jesus came to give you an identity outside your work. Because you have value in him, someone can criticize your creations and you’ll still be His. Nothing anyone can say or do will change your status as a child of the King of Kings.
How can I embrace the pain in my life as something good?
Living with pain is not easy. In fact, sometimes you’ll just want to give in and die. You’ll beg God to take it away – and He won’t.
He may not even answer you when you ask him, “Why?”
The truth is the answer may not make you feel better.
Here’s some encouragement.
1) God will not let your pain go to waste.
God is not a cosmic tyrant. He won’t punish you with a lousy life just because He can. What He desires more than anything for you is that you become more like Jesus. If it takes pain to get you there, He’ll use it.
2) You can trust that He’s in control even when your life isn’t.
God’s wisdom far exceeds my ability to explain it. Someone said He sees all of time as if it were on a tabletop. So He can see what is best and why. Don’t worry about figuring it out. If you get sick, He will hurt along with you. If you lose your job, He will love you through it. If you die, He will welcome you home.
3) You can cast your deepest concerns on Him.
God didn’t promise a pain-free life. He did promise you could run to Him with your pain. He assures you that He will work it for your good.
Go ahead and embrace your pain. God hasn’t left the building. You’re just dizzy from spinning on the Potter’s Wheel.
When He’s done, you’ll look more like Jesus than you did before.
Now, isn’t that worth the pain?