There have been so many moments for me in the past few years where I have cried out to God in the midst of the turmoil. At one end of the spectrum I have felt like we should welcome suffering and then during a very bitter time in my heart I fell into the category where I didn't understand suffering if God is all good and loving then why would He let those things happen to us. Recently we discussed suffering in a Bible Study I'm in and I feel like its a slippery slope because as Christians we are expected to look at suffering as our part of contributing to the cause of Christ. Our suffering allows us to draw closer to Christ and to be a witness to others who are also experiencing or will experience similar circumstances as us. I feel like at times we place this unrealistic expectation on ourselves to approach suffering with complete openness and almost joy and cheer. We develop this guilt that if we question suffering at all then somehow our faith is weak.
Like a chameleon ever changing I have transitioned from one emotion to the next and have came to this conclusion recently. Based on the God that I know who is gracious, forgiving, compassionate, loving and omnipotent I don't believe that God sets out to cause us to suffer. I don't believe that God gives kids cancer, causes people to die young, initiates devastating car accidents, overdoses, rape, murder, infertility, Alzheimer's, or any other earth shaking trauma that completely shakes a person to the core. What I do know is that as a part of life things happen and instead of blaming God for them we forget that in the thick of the forest He is always there, He always comes to our rescue and He always takes us to safety. As Jesus himself was hanging on the cross blood stained and beaten He cried out "Oh God, my God why have you forsaken me" Mark 15:34. See Jesus could have walked away from the torture and pain, He could have thrown up His hands and said "I'm out of here, I'm not doing this, this is hard." Ultimately though He knew that even in His humanness when He questioned His suffering that the cause and purpose of Christ would carry Him through.
There have been moments in my life where I didn't understand the suffering, even just recently we faced a difficult situation and standing in the middle of the storm I couldn't find one single reason that God would have a reason for the pain. What I realized though is that God didn't want me to focus on that one moment but to see that it was all apart of a much bigger plan. It was just a small piece of the puzzle and by looking at that one piece I can't see anything significant but someday when I step back and look at all those pieces fit tightly together the most beautiful image will be displayed.
"While we need not assume there is a divine purpose leading to our suffering, we can and must trust that there is a divine purpose that follows from it. Hence our suffering is not meaningless." Gregory Boyd
I don't know what you are facing today and I'm sure a lot of you have stories that would make me tremble in disbelief because of the deep hurt and pain of your suffering. Right now your circumstances may make absolutely no sense and you wonder what is God doing. I just encourage you that it's ok to be hurt, its ok to be broken and it's ok to cry out to God and ask Him to rescue you from the pain. "I cry aloud to the Lord; to the Lord I plead aloud for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him and tell over my troubles in his presence. When my spirit is faint within me thou art there to watch over my steps" Psalm 142-3. The pain may be overwhelming but I promise God has not left you and if you hold on He will make a purpose for the pain. Romans 8:28 "God works all things together for those who love Him." Even when our pain seems pointless He can trade beauty for ashes, He can take the most broken pieces and transform them into a beautiful Mosaic in the palm of His hands.
"It is often out of the brokenness of our lives that God reveals his choicest beauty and blessing. He makes of our tears a rainbow, of our thorns a crown, and of our dark nights a path upon which his love shines with an uncommon radiance." Henry Gariepy