I got my first tattoo a year ago. I had decided a few months prior that I wanted to get the outline of North Carolina, my home state. I had to build up my courage to actually go and get it (you can read about the ridiculous debacle here, if you dare). I was going through some pretty painful things, emotionally speaking, and distinctly remember thinking, “I’m going to get my tattoo this weekend. I’m actually welcoming the physical pain.”
That likely sounds crazy. But I think the reason I wanted to experience that physical pain is because I knew it would hurt like crap, but then it would be over. And it wouldn’t hurt anymore.
Emotional pain isn’t like that. It hurts, then hurts some more, then weaves its way into every other area of your life. It can threaten to swallow you whole… and you wish it would. But it doesn’t. It just keeps hurting, and it’s a feeling that won’t end. You go to bed with it, sleep restlessly because of it, and wake up with it right in your face.
Maybe you’re in that season. Maybe it’s not like Winter or Summer, that only last three months each. Maybe this is a season that doesn’t feel like a “season” at all… but more like a life sentence. There are countless reasons you may find yourself in pain, left feeling like you’re in the dark, not knowing which way is up, or which way is out.
I read a Bible story with my kids every night. A few weeks ago, one of the questions at the end was, “Why does God let bad things happen to His people?” My 8-year-old son answered, “Because He loves us.”
Now, I don’t know if he just misheard me, or if what I’ve been teaching him is actually clicking. But I. was. floored.
His answer doesn’t seem right, does it? It actually is.
When we think of “good”, we naturally think of happy things, pleasing things. Things that are of gain, advancement, approval. But what is our standard of “good”? If you are a believer in Christ, then your definition of good should be “God”. Myrna Alexander writes about some of the attributes of God in her book, Behold Your God. Here is an excerpt from her book from the fifth chapter; God is Good:
“When Scripture proclaims, ‘God is good’ (Nahum 1:7; Psalms 25:8; 86:5; 119:69), the absolute declaration being made is that God is the source of all goodness in the universe. Therefore, good cannot be found apart from God.
Because God is absolute good, He has never done nor can He ever do one thing to you that is not good. God also cannot change, and so has never been more or less good to you than He is right now.”
If you are a believer in Christ, then you know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
You may be wondering, “If God works ALL things for my good, then how can my infertility be for my good? My job loss? My son’s drug addiction? My mom’s cancer?”
Believer, if you believe that the definition of good is “God”, then here is your answer:
Anything that makes you more like Christ is good.
If your infertility drops you to your knees to cry out to God and in doing so, you draw near to God… that is good.
If losing your job makes you pick up your Bible and lean on Christ through prayer and tears… that is good.
If your son’s drug addiction makes you constantly come to the Lord, praying protection over your son and deliverance from his addiction, and asking God to guide you and give you peace in the process.. that is good.
If your mom’s cancer diagnosis breaks you to the point where you give up and tell God you don’t know how to handle this, and causes you to cling to Him for peace and hope… that is good.
My pastor was preaching on Jonah back in June. Brian stated that God uses two methods to draw believers to Himself. Theology and affliction. First, He uses theology. When that doesn’t get our attention, He allows the painful circumstances. But His sovereignty in our storms is always directed at a purpose: to break down our self-reliance. To draw us near to Himself.
I just read an article from The Gospel Coalition this week by Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic. She said a Bible study friend of hers from the 70s said ten words that set the course for her life:
“God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.”
The article continues, “God hated the torture, injustice, and treason that led to the crucifixion. Yet He permitted it so that the world’s worst murder could become the world’s only salvation.”
Friend, understand this: God hates your infertility. He hates all the crap you have to go through while trying to bring new, precious life into this world. God hates that you are in financial distress and are fearful of how you’ll pay your mortgage and provide for your family. God hates that your son has a drug addiction. God hates cancer. Yet, He is permitting it for the sake of Christ in you. To draw you close to Himself.
Yes, God allows bad things to happen to His people because He loves them.
It hurts God to see His people in pain. But, I’m going to say something that you may not like. God is not for your happiness. He’s not. I have not seen a single verse in all of the Bible in the years I have been reading it where God says He is for your happiness. No, He is for your joy. Happiness is circumstantial, but joy can be yours in the darkest hours of your life (James 1:2, Romans 5:3-5) and produces perseverance, character, and hope in Christ. Steward your pain well, knowing it is not in vain.
This world is broken.. our lives are filled with hurt. Sometimes God moves mountains… and sometimes He makes mountains unmoveable (my life song right now is “Even If” by Mercy Me… have a listen if you are going through pain right now). Let your pain compel you to the feet of Christ, knowing He is for your good (Christ in you!). Know that Jesus is the Light of the world, and whoever walks with Him will never walk in darkness (John 8:12). Cling to the Lord and yearn for the hope of Heaven, where one day all the brokenness will become unbroken.