Pain and grief – why?

Life can be really challenging sometimes.

Our world is filled with people who are plagued with anxieties, fear and depression. We experience these things for so many different reasons, whether physical, environmental or psychological.

Sometimes circumstances outside of our own control bring a tsunami of pain and grief that never goes away. Perhaps through the loss of a loved one or the persistence of an debilitating physical or mental condition. Sometimes, we experience pain as a result of a bad choice that we’ve made.

Whatever it is – we’ve come to a point in time where we are left reeling, disoriented, questioning the point of life, perhaps questioning God Himself.

Perhaps we have no trouble acknowledging the fact that God is the omnipotent creator of heaven and earth – but that doesn’t necessarily stop us from asking the question, “Why does God allow this painful cirumstance to happen”?

If God is all-powerful, “why doesn’t He intervene and resolve the situation”? “Why did God allow this situation to develop in the first place”. Perhaps, in our grief, we point the finger at God and blame Him, because we know He has the power to resolve the situation, yet He persists in allowing us to suffer.

This mental conflict can result in a crisis of faith where we might ask; “How can I love a God who allows pain and grief to be imposed upon me like this. What kind of relationship or what kind of love is this?”

Its unlikely that we will know WHY God has chosen to allow our difficult circumstances to occur and persist, in our moment of suffering.

And the absense of a clear answer to that question can be painful in itself. Christ also had to deal with this – he didn’t want the pain and suffering of the crucifixion. He pleaded with God “please take this cup from me”. God did not answer this prayerful request from his Son, even though his Son pleaded with him.

Yet while we don’t always know the reason why He does what He does, God does give us a glimpse of why we should still trust Him in the most difficult of times.

This glimpse is found in words that God spoke over 2500 years ago in one of the darkest moments in Judah’s national history, deep inside Babylon, to the captives of Judah.

These captives had been taken from their lands, uprooted from their familes – some of whom had been killed back in Israel – and they were now in a foreign place only to be confronted with imprisonment, starvation and death.

Anxiety and depression would have been a natural response to such a traumatic event like this. Life itself would’ve seemed pointless and empty. And in those moments of need, doubtless the captives asked the question “why is God allowing this to happen”?

The way that God appeals to these captives in Isa 51 v1-16 is insightful.

While God chooses not to reveal to us the immediate “why” about our circumstances, He does give us something to hold onto. He presents a case which consists of three main points:

I am trustworthy

v1-2 – Paraphrase: “When I make a promise, I keep it. Want proof? Look at Abraham and how my promise has already started to be fulfilled in his children”

I will give you peace and joy

v3-11 – Paraphrase: “The future is going to be amazing (joy, peace, etc) for those who trust me. I promise.”

I have the power to do this

v12-16 – Paraphrase: “I am the creator of the heavens and the earth – I know what I’m doing. I have the power to make this happen.”

Even in when our affliction is unrelenting – even in our most vulnerable moments God does not always give us the outcome or result that we desperately want and in moments of acute suffering this can feel like betrayal.

However, God wants us – in these moments – to trust Him; trust that He will help us see it through; trust that He wants to bring us peace; trust that He has the absolute power and authority to make this happen and trust that He will keep his promise to do just that.

Christ begged for the cup to be taken from him. Christ did not even deserve the punishment he endured. Despite this, God never removed the cup.

Instead of removing the cup, God gave him more than he or anyone could possibly imagine, and He has promised to do the same for us if we hold fast in Faith.

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