HOPE IN THE SUFFERING
1 Corinthians 13:12
It was May of 2001. I was playing basketball with my friend out in the yard like we did so many days as kids. Only this day would be much different than the other days. Nothing could prepare me for the phone call I was about to receive. I answered the phone, and my uncle asked in a serious voice if I could put my mom on. After my mom got off the phone, she told me my dad had been in a serious car wreck. Not knowing what to expect, we jumped in the car and drove to the hospital. I was only 12 and was not allowed to go back and see my dad. I was sad, scared, and quite honestly, at that age, had no idea what to think. A few days later, the last week of school as a 6th-grade boy, my mom sat me down on the porch to let me know my dad had passed away. The last time I ever saw my dad alive was at a rec league baseball game. The last words I remember us saying were that we loved each other like we always did when leaving. The moral of this story isn’t you never know when you will breathe your last breath, although that is true. The moral of this story is that I know how loss feels. I know what it’s like to experience pain. The problem for me is I had to get used to it and go through it at a lot earlier age than most. After losing a parent as a 12-year-old boy (only child), there isn’t a worse loss you can experience. Loss and pain are part of life. There is no way around them. At some point, we all experience it. Grief and loss take us through moments of hurt, and those moments may never leave.
Nineteen years later, it’s harder on me now than it has ever been. I have a wife and two amazing sons that my dad will never meet on this side of Heaven, and that hurts my heart to the deepest core. I wonder about what kind of pawpaw he would’ve been and all the things I will never get to experience with him. But our hope is not found within loss getting easier. Our hope is rooted in the Gospel and in what we will taste and see for eternity. Our hope for the believer is knowing when we leave this earth; we enter into eternity with our Lord Jesus into a place called Heaven. A place with beauty and perfection, no finite mind could even fathom. I can with all honesty say I have never been angry at God or blamed God, like so many do when pain occurs in their life. We must not use things in life that haven’t gone our way as an excuse to blame God and get bitter. You either get bitter and run from Jesus, or you run to Jesus with your hurt and pain. God didn’t cause your pain; sin did. Instead of blaming God, we need to be praising God. He is a good God worthy of our praise, even in the midst of our suffering and pain.
2 Corinthians 4
15 Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is renewed day by day.
17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an incomparable eternal weight of glory.
18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
“Our suffering will pale in comparison to the goodness of heaven.”
Have an eternal perspective rather than an earthly perspective. Focus on the goodness of God in every circumstance. Work through your hurt, don’t run from it.
- Why are hardships easy for people to blame God as an excuse for their bitterness?
- How do people use God as a crutch to their bitterness and not work through their pain and suffering? Have you ever found yourself bitter at God for specific hardships in your own life?
- Why is it hard for people to see past the suffering and see into praising God amid hurt?
- How does God use pain and suffering in our lives for good? How have you seen God at work in this area within your own life?
- Are there areas in your life where you need to be praising God instead of blaming God?