The heartbreaks of life cause us to ask the deepest of questions.
A young man is sitting across from me with pain etched deeply in his face. Only a few weeks ago he stood by an open grave with three young children watching the casket being lowered in to the ground. The stillness. The pain. The questions.
Where do I go from here? What am I going to do with my children? Oh God, if you are there, why me? Why me!?!
Life has a way of throwing a pebble into the smooth surface of a still pond. A chaotic splash and the ripples touches every part our soul. The wrenching pain of an exposed heart can cripple us emotionally, physically, even spiritually. The tragedies of life places on a precipice of either grasping for the reality of a Higher Being, or the cold rejection of a loving God.
Where can we find peace and solace in the depths of suffering? Where can we turn for answers when God seems far away on some distant planet? We need someone who understands our pain. To share our grief, embrace our hearts, to put a hand on our shoulder and say, “I am always with you. I will never leave you.”
We can never adequately answer why God would take a loved one in the prime of their lives. We don’t know why God chose to not answer our prayers — even the prayer of five-year girl kneeling at her bed. The cold concrete answer for death – any death on this world – is sin. If it wasn’t for sin, painful tragedies would never occur. But what is more important than this explanation is this understanding — God was suffering with you throughout the whole affair.
Jesus Christ is not our adversary in times of suffering, he is our cure. Jesus Christ suffers with us in our suffering. He is a God who weeps, too. His unconditional love is the only source for healing and peace. Through his participation in our pain, he redeems it. By his ultimate suffering on the cross, he heals our own suffering. He is not off on some distant planet, but is with us each step of the way. This truth alone reveals to us the magnitude of God’s love for us. A loving Father sent his only Son to a dirty, sinful world. Jesus experienced the hellish depth of all that is nightmarish in human existence on behalf of us. He loved the unlovable. He befriended the friendless. Finally, he suffered for a world that is at once so beautiful and so ugly.
Questions are going to remain while we deal with the pain and suffering of life. Jesus’ answer for us is to trust in him. Christ wins our love and trust through the healing compassion of his Word and the warm understanding of his silent embrace. He provides an understanding in the heart which the mind can never fully grasp. Our trust rests on the belief that God works the best result out of all situations, whether good or bad, for the purpose of bringing us closer to him. He wins our love in a way reasons could never do.
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How a person responds to hurt, disappointment and frustration in their lives is probably a Christian’s most powerful witness. It is truly during these times when we have the opportunity to expose or introduce Christ living in us.
So often, the need to be right dominates our life. We have an inherited the need to pursue being right and even demanding rights from others. If our pursuit is left unaltered, we inadvertently soil our opportunity to share and display the fruits of Christ living in us.
The pursuit of being right is really placing our self above all others. For this very reason, our faith journey with Christ must require a sacrifice. It requires embracing the principle message behind the cross. Jesus Christ bore the cross for us. It was a willing sacrifice for the sake of all people. The principle message behind the cross means the sacrificial death of our self. Did not Christ die for us, though we were so undeserving? In the same way, are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for other, even if it means the risk of being hurt, disappointed or surrendering our right?
The message of the cross guides us on how to respond to people and how we conduct ourselves, especially during the difficult circumstances in life. It is the sacrifice of rights and our personal battle to defend them at all costs. For Christ did not die on the cross to defend our rights. He died so we can be right with God.
The message of the cross is based on the perfection of our Heavenly Father. The Bible says, “You shall be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” By walking by faith in Christ, by receiving Christ in us, we are perfect. We are declared as God’s dearly loved children even thought we sometimes fail. Like children, we grow and mature in our faith and confidence. The message of the cross reminds us to imitate God and live a life a love because God first loved us. And during those times when we demand to be right, or the expectation in being treated right by others, we can offer a willing sacrifice of our self that is pleasing to God.
For isn’t that what Christ did for us?