The problem with pain

I found out some very tragic news this morning.  My hairdresser’s nine month old daughter has been diagnosed with a inoperable brain tumour and only has a few days or weeks to live.  I was gutted.  What could I say?  What comfort could I give?

The simple answer? None!

The only thing I could do was cry.  My heart went out to her and her husband. All I could do was cry for her and with her.

I could have given loads of platitudes, saying how God was for her, that He loved her daughter, and that it was all because of sin that she was dying.  That is wasn’t God’s fault.

Yet comments like that just didn’t seem right under the circumstances. They seemed so hollow, so cold, so inappropriate. How could I make them when her heart was breaking. How were they going to help. She was in pain. She was angry. She just couldn’t understand how she deserved such bad luck.

So I didn’t say anything.  I just cried.

How do we make a difference in situations like this one?  How do we show Jesus to someone who is experiencing such pain?

We come along side them, we comfort them, we cry with them and we pray for them.  That’s it.

The thing is, it can happen to us as much as it can happen to them, to believers and non-believers alike.  The sun shines on the righteous and the wicked. I got suntanned before I got saved.  This is the absolute truth, I’ve got the photographs to prove it!

Jesus never promised us an easy life free of problems and pain.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Ask the persecuted church around the world whether being a Christian is easy.

The difference is how we deal with the pain and suffering.

We understand about God’s love for His creation.  How selfishness and pride corrupted what was good.  We know about God’s rescue plan, our salvation, offered for free by His grace through our faith in Jesus. The problem that separated us is sorted. Jesus died on the cross for us!  He went through the pain so that we could be free for ever.

As a people of faith, valued and loved by God, we have hope! A hope that brings joy in all situations, even in pain and heart break. Not the cheap thrill of masochism, but the deep seated contentment that comes from knowing that our suffering is short lived when viewed from an eternal perspective.

It’s hard enough to cope with the death of a child, no matter who you are, but having to cope with it without hope? How do people do it? Nobody expects to outlive their children.

Knowing Jesus makes the difference.  His love somehow gets you through the pain. Hope neutralises the anger, and faith melts away the bitterness.

Our first son died as a baby.  Tragic.  I know how I felt, the pain is still there 17 years later, but knowing Jesus made the difference to me and my family.  I don’t think I would have coped without my faith in Him, without the hope that comes because of Him.

My heart is hurting this evening. I hurt because someone I know hurts. I cry because my friend is crying.

What more can I do?

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