Over the last week, since I received her call about Ben's passing, I have found myself trying to imagine what my friend is going through. I, too, have a son named Ben. He is still a teenager, and not a single one of us is safe from a devastating loss such as this. I honestly cannot even imagine what it would be like to lose a child. Sometimes I think I can. I can picture it strongly enough that I have cried over it, but I know our imaginations cannot really go there until we have actually been there.
Since becoming a Christian I have spent many hours praying to God for the strength to get through just such a situation should I ever be faced with it. I'm not talking about the strength to remain upright in the days and weeks following a loss of this magnitude, although to be sure I would need that. I'm talking about the strength to be faithful to my Father. The strength to find His grace and mercy in something so catastrophic to me that it would threaten my relationship and belief in Him as my almighty King and Savior. My belief in a God that loves and protects us.
I believe with all my heart that pain and suffering does not come from God. God loves His children and walks with us through our time on this earth. He wants what is best for us, but He also wants us to persevere and lean on Him in a world covered with sin and suffering. Sin and suffering that comes from Satan. He let's us go through the pain of this world so that we will long for Heaven, which is our true home.
When we go through suffering here on this earth we are in good company. So many of the men and women in the Bible went through incredible suffering as they passed through this earth on their way Home. Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers. Job, whose suffering lasted virtually his entire life. Noah, being isolated from his fellow man, building an arc and then living on it with his family while all living things save the animals and his family on the arc were destroyed. Paul, giving up everything he had on this earth to preach the gospel, spending many years in prison, homeless, hungry, beaten. Mary, watching her beloved son Jesus be persecuted and then brutally and publicly crucified. Jesus.
These are but a few examples among many. Why do I bring these up now, at a time of such sorrow and suffering for my friend? Because as Believers we must continue to trust in God, even when our hearts are broken in a thousand pieces, and we cannot comprehend the unfairness of it all. BEFORE we go through something like this we really do need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that life is going to get really hard and be really unfair. We must not bury our heads in the sand that terrible suffering cannot come to us such that we do not prepare our heads and our hearts for it. Satan wants nothing more than to take every single person away from God. He waits for a time such as this to worm his way into our lives and plant seeds of doubt that could eventually destroy our love for God.
If you read your Bible you know that God warns us of this. He warns us that life on this earth will bring suffering. When sin entered the world with Adam and Eve so did death and suffering. But, it does not have to be in vain. God can use our suffering to help us be a light and beacon to others. God uses such things to glorify His Kingdom and bring others back to Him. We are not promised an easy walk here on earth, but we are promised that He will walk faithfully with us, and then bring us Home when the time comes.
I don't want to leave it here but am at a loss for more words. It is a little after 6am and I have to get ready for work. In a little over 8 hours from now I will be hugging my friend along with many others as we help her lay her son to rest. My stomach hurts thinking about it. I can't imagine how she feels right now, but I believe in our Lord's power to heal us. With all my heart.
If you aren't a Believer and you are reading this, I will be praying that the seeds of longing for our Lord placed in you at your birth to move you enough that you will be stirred. If you are a Believer who is going through a season of suffering that brings doubt, I will pray that you will be lifted up by others who can fortify your love for God and help you see His loving, merciful hand guiding you through the darkness. And if you are a child of God who has yet to experience suffering, I rejoice with you that God is so good and pray that you will use this time to gird your faith and your love for Him. Study God's word. Pray and prepare your heart for the trials and tribulations that will likely come so you can be strong in your love for Him and not give Satan one sliver of an opening into your heart.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” Ephesians 6:11
“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." — Luke 22:42
The words from Luke above were spoken by our Lord, Jesus Christ. Even He called out to God in His suffering. In the garden of Gesthemane, Jesus got down on His knees and begged God to remove from Him the terrible suffering on the cross that was to come. Jesus knows first hand what we are going through when we face a cross that we believe cannot bear. Lean on Him, For he understands fully your pain.
Our suffering can bring us closer to God, if we let it.