“If God is so good, then…”
Of all the questions I’ve been asked in 30 years of pastoral ministry, this is the one I hate the most.
It’s not because it’s hard to answer, because from a theological perspective, it’s actually not hard to answer. The brokenness of the world, the original sin that cursed creation, the free will of man to do harm and damage to others, the spiritual warfare we are constantly battling…the answer is really as easy as 1-2-3…BUT the answer never stops the pain.
As a pastor you care for people, you love people, you want to see people find their hope in God, and rest in his care. When people ask this question they aren’t asking for a treatise on original sin, they are asking because they hurt. Today, you may very well be hurting, and understanding the doctrines, theology, or whatever isn’t going to change that. So, let me take a little different path with you.
Although in this moment God might feel far away, I promise you he is not. He also is not unaware or unfamiliar with what you are feeling. He is grieving right along side you, in Isaiah 53 it says that Jesus is familiar or acquainted with grief. In the New Testament, Jesus calls himself the good Shepherd, who cares for, holds, and is even willing to die to save his sheep. You are precious in his sight, and your pain, your hurt, your grief has not gone unnoticed.
What you are feeling is natural and normal, don’t run from it or hide from it. Grief is a gift from God to helps us work through the pain that we cannot put into words. Grief helps us process the un-processable and allows us to, eventually, get back up. But, in your grief, Jesus is there…
2 Corinthian 1:4 NLT
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
This little passage is powerful, and it can give some sense of purpose to our pain. One day, once you work through your grief, once you are back on your feet again…never whole, but healed…you can step into someone else’s grief and give them comfort. The moment of your biggest hurt may one day be the area of your most impactful ministry to others.
So, my counsel to those that are grieving:
- Be honest with yourself and those around you, don’t hide your pain.
- Believe that even in the moments when you are most alone, that God is there, because the presence of pain does not mean the absence of God.
- Know that one day the wound will heal, and God will use you to help heal another.