Two anonymous questions:
– What are you suppose to think when all you can think is God is taking everything I love out of my life?
– So, what do you do when you feel in over your head? One of my best friends is struggling with faith, my husband is struggling with a lot of stress from his job, and my mom is struggling in a relationship with her bf. Then I read the news, and everything looks so dismal. I feel like there is so much hurt around me. I know my prayers are effective, and that God is sovereign. But I just want to stop all the hurting. Any words of advice?
Hey my wonderful friends, I must first say: I’m really sorry about everything that’s happening and I dearly love you both. I know it can’t help much, but you must know before I turn into super-advice-robot or go off on Christianese cliches that I know how it is, being in a whirlwind of hurt with seemingly no way out. So anything I say here couldn’t possibly be a magic formula or silver bullet to instantly re-arrange your feelings, and I can only hope to cheer you on for just one more step, which will be enough.
Please allow me to offer a few thoughts on all this. As always, please feel free to skip around.
– Sometimes pain is just pain, and there’s no spiritualized lesson. I’ve said before: Not every pain has a lesson. Not every hurt can be spiritualized into a moral fable. You don’t have to force anything good out of this. When it feels like all our blessings are being taken from us, it’s wrong to say, “God is teaching me to live without them.” Maybe He is, but who’s to say that while it’s happening? When there’s one more shooting or funeral or CEO getting away with fraud, I’m not going to say, “But God is using it for good.” God is mad at injustice too.
It’s possible that we get to see some good from pain, but it’s not for me to connect-the-dots on “why” this or that person was hurt or betrayed. My hope can’t be in things “working out” or else I’ll idolize results instead of helping my fellow friend. We often say “I passed the test and got the job, so God is good!” — which is okay to celebrate, but that can imply that God is only good to the good kids and somehow neglects all the other people who didn’t make it. We can’t connect every blessing this way either. To spiritualize any of this is cruel and dismissive.
When I hear other Christians say “God has a wonderful plan for your life” or “Pain is what forces you to grow,” I get what they’re saying, but this falls totally flat when I’m actually going through something. It doesn’t work. It’s like when I get migraines, there’s always someone who says, “Drink some cold water.” Nice gesture, but that’s a bandage for a bullet wound. Which leads us to —