“Everywhere I have looked, raw, filthy, human need and brokenness have been on display, begging for someone to meet them, fix them. And even though I realize I cannot always mend or meet, I can enter in. I can enter into someone’s pain and sit with them and know. This is Jesus. Not that He apologizes for the hard and the hurt, but that he enters in, He comes with us to the hard places. And so I continue to enter.”
“Joy costs pain, but the pain is worth it. After all, the murder had to take place before the resurrection.”
God does not promise to shelter us from pain.
Did you hear that, heart? God made no promises to shelter you from pain.
This is so hard for me to grasp, but it’s more than just a stray thought. It’s that most ironclad of promises: the Scriptural kind. Here’s John 16:33:
“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.”
Not, “you may have trouble.” Not, “it might get a little tough sometimes.”
In this world, you will have trouble.
That can make Christianity a bit of a hard sell — not just to others, but to myself. Rich Mullins talked about this a bit:
“If you’ve ever known the love of God, you know it’s nothing but reckless and it’s nothing but raging. Sometimes it hurts to be loved, and if it doesn’t it’s probably not love, may be infatuation. I think a lot of American people are infatuated with God, we don’t really love Him, and they don’t really let Him love them. Being loved by God is one of the most painful things in the world. It’s also the only thing that can bring us salvation and it’s, like everything else that is really wonderful, there’s a little bit of pain in it, a little bit of hurt…If you want a religion that makes sense, go somewhere else. But if you want a religion that makes life, choose Christianity.”
The promise, of course, is in the peace. Joy is found not in the absence of pain, not in prosperity, not in places of perfect calm. It is found in the presence of Christ, and His presence persists in the pain.
He is right beside you. That’s the gift.