This post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday, where this week’s word prompt is why.
In this week’s devotional reading, author & speaker Jennie Allen is speaking to me about suffering. It is a deep and painful topic, but something with which we all must come to terms.
“I am a big believer in Christian counseling, and that may be an important step in your healing, but no study or counselor can do what Jesus can do. He suffered and wants to walk with you through your suffering as the open wounds heal into scars, leaving a memory and a mark but losing their sting.”
That last sentence reminds me so much of the outcome of my younger sister’s suffering as her first husband went through four years of fighting with Hodgkin’s disease. He had good seasons and bad and even underwent a bone marrow transplant, but in the end, God chose to take him home at a very young age.
Not too many years after that, on one particularly significant date in their relationship, I asked her if the memory was still painful. I’ll never forget my sister’s answer to me at that time. She told me that with the passing of time and the healing she had worked through, it was as if the experience was tucked into a folder, which she could pull out when needed, but it no longer caused her daily hurt. She could use her experience as a tool to help others, but it no longer had to live in her heart.
I also think way back to when my grandfather passed away early on the morning we were supposed to leave for our family vacation. As I awoke as an 11-year old with the anticipation of leaving on our trip, I immediately sensed that something was wrong. My parents explained that Grandpa had suffered another heart attack and had gone on to be with the Lord.
Of course I was sad and would work through my own grief as I watched the pain of my grandmother and mother, but in that childish moment, the first question I tentatively asked my parents was if that meant we weren’t going on our vacation. I knew the answer, but my heart still felt disappointed in the moment.
I don’t even remember exactly how my parents answered (except that we would go later on), but I clearly remember that even though my mom had just lost her father, she understood my question and allowed me to first grieve the loss of a vacation before I processed the greater loss of our loved one.
These experiences are two of many times of suffering we have known, but they teach me something about pain, suffering and loss.
I think it’s OK to ask God the question, “Why?”, as he understands our frail human emotions. It’s only natural to ponder the reasons for hard experiences, and we’d be lying if we pretended everything was just fine. After all, the Bible speaks of many people of faith who asked God these hard questions.
But in the end, it’s a matter of the heart.
Do I trust God enough to believe, even in my questioning, that he loves me and is faithful?
I have a choice when it comes to my times of pain and suffering.
I can choose to dwell in the hurt and questions, or I can allow myself to grow, stretch and heal, until one day the experience is there only as a testament to his faithfulness and a reference to help others.
Jennie Allen also states,
So go ahead and ask the hard question, “Why?”. I’m sure that God’s shoulders are big enough to handle it.
Then make a choice to allow your why to become a part of the greater purpose that God has for your life.