A recent interaction with a co-worker brings me to a new possible installment on male behavior and dating. We’re going to take a look at how men relate to women through their actions.
Death is arguably the most difficult thing we face. Maybe it’s the seeming finality of death that is so hard or the absence of the one we care about. Every other pain we experience in our life seems treatable, preventable, repairable, or at least tolerable. For many followers of Christ, the moment we realize a loved one is really gone is when we experience our deepest doubts of God.
It can happen days, weeks, months, or years later. Our prayers turns into questions, “God, how could You let this happen?” and, “Are you even listening?” and, “Do you care?” and, “Are you even there at all?” Our praise turns into stark accusations against God. When close friends and followers of Jesus—Mary and Martha—told him their brother Lazarus was sick and dying, Jesus did not come. Even though He was only a day’s walk away, Jesus let Lazarus die, then let Mary and Martha grieve alone before finally coming.
When He did arrive, Lazarus was already sealed in a grave. Mary stayed home, and Martha let Jesus know that He was late. Then, Jesus called for Mary, who came weeping. When Martha told Jesus he could have kept Lazarus from death, Jesus responded, “… I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die … ” How powerful!
When Mary wept, Jesus wept. Jesus’ tears paint not only a picture of a God who hurts when we hurt, but also a God who hurts because we hurt. He is not the origin of death and separation. He understands, better than we, the true effects of death in the world and life He created for us.
While He doesn’t stop pain from happening to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt Him too. We know Jesus wept right before he brought Lazarus back to life. He also knows that for whoever believes in Him—including people we love—death is not permanent, and life with Him is eternal.
Does it still hurt when people die? Yes. Does God hurt with us? Yes.
When you lost a loved one, how were your thoughts of God? How are your thoughts of God now?
If you are still hurting, turn to God now. It took me two years to present myself to God and how I was feeling. It took me two months to bring myself to finish this series. The grace flowed through me like a ragging river.
Know that He hurts with you and weeps with you.
Each of us experiences some level of pain throughout our lives, each with a different cause. However, while the causes may be different, the pain feels the same. It hurts and leaves us all asking the same question, “why, God?”
Have you ever grabbed a rose thinking the thorns had been removed? Or go to tackle those pesky weeds taking over your lawn or garden? The result is a pins-and-needles poke followed by a throbbing reminder of your mistake. The throbbing lasts for hours and seems like it will never cease.
Paul. Where do we start with him? A man who experienced such pain in his life from loss of family, persecution, imprisonment, and finally execution. Yet, he remained steadfast in his devotion to God and his task.
In his letters to the church in Corinth, Paul talks about the pain he is going through and past struggles. He describes how pain and weakness were not seldom occurrences of weakness but rather a steady companion. Paul explains the trial he was going through was given to him as a strategy to poke a hole in his ego. Suffering so that God’s work could not be claimed as his own. In essence, his perpetual pain was a gift revealing God’s nature. Pain reveals God’s “together-strength” that transforms our failure into His perfection.
When God seemed inattentive to Paul’s pain, he could have assumed God was either absent or abusive. Instead, he recognized that pain put him in good company.
Think of the last time you questioned God. What were the thorns and weeds like? What were the flowers and garden like after going through the thorns and weeds?
Change the perspective. Instead of removing the trial before you, seek how God’s strength can be revealed.