A coworker lost her husband earlier this year. One of my students ran away last week. Another student filed a CPS report against his own father. A young girl was torn in half when her mother left her at the neighbor’s when her boyfriend didn’t want kids in his house. A friend recently wrote about living with a loved one who has cancer. He gave a glimpse of what life is like with this debilitating disease and the side effects of treatment. He told of the relentless pain and the unanswered prayers for healing. Then at small group, someone told me of a six year old boy who had gone missing earlier in the day just a few hundred feet from where we were meeting. When I returned home I looked the story up online. I was hoping they had found him. They found they boy’s hat and boot in the river. The rescue efforts were called off when it got dark. His body was found in the river Monday morning. I can’t imagine the depth of pain his family is experiencing.
As I drove home from small group and fervently prayed for the family of this missing little boy, one thought kept playing through my mind.
This reminder gave me incredible comfort. I have seen first hand the Lord’s faithfulness. When I was brokenhearted and so low I thought I’d never have hope again, when my mom was “diagnosed” with cancer, when my aunt was in a coma for weeks and we didn’t know if she would live, God was faithful. He didn’t erase my pain or make everything right in my life, but he was faithful to me.
God doesn’t spare us all suffering or protect us from all sorrow because, unfortunately, he never said he would. In fact, Jesus says just the opposite. He warns us to expect hard times. (Read Matthew 5) The assurance the Lord does give is that when we experience hurt, when our hearts are breaking, he’ll be with us. He declares he’ll never leave us. And in that he’s faithful.
So when I’m plagued by grief and sorrow, when despair and rejection claim my hope, when I’m physically ill because of the horrors in this life, I’ll cling not to the disillusionment that God will take away my pain, but to the promise that God is with me.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Isaiah 43:2, 3