The tragedy in Colorado is on all of our hearts today. The word I have heard used most often to describe it is “senseless,” meaning that it was without purpose. Tragedy always strikes us this way, whether it is the death of a loved one, betrayal, or the pain of disease; all of this goes against our innate sense of what is right and good.
Yet in the midst of the darkness, suffering can be filled with meaning. Since being given my own dose of deep suffering a year and a half ago, my awareness of stories of suffering has been heightened. I have heard over and over again the stories of loss—a child stillborn, a diagnosis of cancer, spousal unfaithfulness, abuse, the persecution and imprisonment of Christians; yet I am amazed how in each instance, God provides overwhelming comfort. Don’t misunderstand me, the pain is not taken away. There are still the agonizing nights of lying on the floor in tears, wondering if morning will ever come. But in those nights, God draws near, administering peace. There are still the days when each breath is a choice to persevere, when every song brings tears, when the ache in your heart is like a suffocating lead weight. But in each of those moments, Jesus is there. And He knows. He knows each pain, each sorrow, every tear. Only the God who suffered more than any of us ever will could know that.He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:3-5
Rereading my journal the other day, I found myself in awe of the journey which God has brought me on in the last 18 months. Was the suffering easy? No. Would I want to endure it again? No. But would I avoid it if I could go back and do it again? No, because through it I know my Savior better. I feel more alive today than ever before: my heart brims over with joy, peace and hope. I believed in Jesus before, and I had some sense of His person, but today I know so much more intimately His love, His grace and His glory. And that came through my suffering.
Evil is just that, evil, and it was not a part of the perfect world God created. But our God, the suffering Savior God, in ways beyond our comprehension, takes even evils beyond imagination and metamorphoses His good out of them.Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Take heart, then, no matter what befalls. Our good God is in control, and He is making all things right. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~Jesus