- Dozens of people shot in a cold-blooded massacre at a nightclub.
- An Ohio woman charged with trafficking her 11-year-old daughter for sex to feed her heroin addiction.
- Parents experiencing the death of their son in an ungodly alligator attack in Disney World, of all places.
I had to stop watching the news. I couldn't bear to see any more anguish.
But human suffering continued to infiltrate my world. It crept into my private circles. In just the past few days, people have talked with me--people I know and care about--who are dealing with debilitating depression, cancer diagnoses, childhood sexual abuse, broken marriage vows, even thoughts of ending their lives.
Even though I've been a Christian my entire life I still find myself asking, Where is God in all this suffering? And that's when I begin again to understand that, in times of suffering, it is not the loss of loved ones, the loss of innocence, the loss of ability, or the loss of relationships that wrenches our souls. It is the loss of hope.
Dr. Myron J. Taylor once wrote, “The real sting of suffering is not misfortune itself, nor even the pain or the injustice of it, but the apparent God-forsakenness of it. Pain is endurable, but the seeming indifference of God is not.”
Although suffering makes it seem that God is indifferent it is clear from Scripture that He is not. He cares deeply when His children are hurting. In fact, He suffers with us. He grieves when His children grieve.
Suffering was never part of His plan for His kids. He created for us a perfect world. A world that knew nothing of terrorism or tragedy, of sickness or sorrow. A world in which there was a perfect relationship between the Creator and the created. A world in which He simply delighted in being with us. Then sin entered that world and messed everything up. No one grieves that more than God.
And yet we have hope. Because God is still with us. He accompanies us on our often heartrending journey, but not as an oblivious onlooker. He selflessly, compassionately offers us what we need--healing for our broken hearts, rest for our weary souls, strength that is made perfect in our weakness, peace that passes human understanding.
God not only walks with us through our suffering, He enters into it. And in our times of deepest anguish when we think we can't go on, He points us to a future in which the perfect world He created will be restored. Where tears and fears will be no more. Where all that's wrong will be made right. Where all that's broken will be made new.
We need never fear that God has forsaken us. He would never leave us to deal with the heartaches of life on our own. It would go against the Father's nature to abandon His kids. So where is He in our suffering? Smack dab in the middle of it.