Saturday, September 29, 2012

You would have thought that hunger, poverty and disease had been conquered. Everyone was so ecstatic; it was like world peace had been achieved. We were so far down in the valley of the shadow of death that we could not even see the top. There was no meaning or purpose to life; we were wandering aimlessly looking for someone to save us.

And then it suddenly happened, the NFL lockout ended and the regular officiating crew received a standing ovation as they entered the stadium.  Indeed, life could now return to normal.

Throughout the lockout there has been much speculation about what was really going on. After all, it seemed inconsistent that the $9 billion NFL should react so harshly towards a small number of part-time employees. What was the real story behind the story? Even now, we really don’t know. But like most things in life, we don’t see everything.

  • A friend receives threatening letters from an attorney
  • Someone does not keep their commitment to help and be there when you need them the most
  • Worry and uncertainty as you await the doctor’s call, giving you the results of a test that could radically change your life
  • A spouse abandons you as they chase a fanciful relationship, leaving you with the kids, mortgage and debt
  • Lost your savings and about to lose your home
  • A young child is killed in a freak auto accident

I clearly hear the wounded cries of hearts and voices as people tell me these true stories. The pain, feelings of abandonment and loss are as real as the ground under our feet as we struggle to make sense of it all.

This week, I listened to a friend unload for almost two hours as they described their life and circumstances. At the end, their conclusion was that God was some kind of sadist, that he enjoyed pummeling, punishing and giving us pain.

While I have not gone through the same pain and frustration, I deeply and respectfully understand something about it. Right after we got married I was taken to the emergency room with heart attack symptoms, but it turned out to be something more serious. I rapidly became paralyzed from the neck down as they frantically searched for the cause, which turned out to be an aneurism in my spine. Lengthy surgery was able to remove this pressure on my spinal cord, returning my movement but I had substantial nerve damage that daily generates dull to agonizing pain in my neck, back, shoulders and legs. Barring a miracle after these many years, I will live with this pain all the days of my life.

As the pain feels like someone is stabbing me in the back with an ice pick I cry out to God, “Why have you allowed this? Why didn’t you stop it? When will it end?”

I have discovered great comfort in the fact that God has personally experienced all these feelings and more in Jesus. Think about it;

  • He was betrayed by a close, trusted friend [1]
  • He cries out to God asking that the upcoming pain and suffering be taken away [2]
  • He was wrongly accused for something he never did [3]
  • His best friend deserted him [4]
  • He felt abandoned by God [5]

I cannot explain the exact reasons for the pain and suffering that you are going through. Neither can I promise you that you will find out in this life. But we have the absolute assurance that God does understand and care. Whatever the reasons, it cannot be because he is indifferent or far away. We can know this because he personally experienced the same loss, loneliness and pain that we have, and oh so much more.

God wants us to cry out to him when we hurt, knowing that he cares and comforts with a love that experienced the same things we did. He does not hide from us, but seeks us out to wrap his arms around us in his everlasting love.

Blessings – Chet

Chet Gladkowski writes and speaks on practical topics that touch culture, life and faith. - email, Facebook & Twitter - blog
GladAssociates - YouTube

[1] Matthew 26:14-16
[2] Matthew 26:36-42
[3] Luke 23:4
[4] Matthew 26:31-35
[5] Mark 15:34

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