Bad news, hard news, violent news. All pile up on top of our personal conflicts...and eventually, like most, we might ask, "How can God allow all this pain?" For you, a post to give you hope.
With Pamela's permission, I share with you her private story. She relates:
I wrapped an old jacket around me and slammed the door of my dingy apartment. At four in the morning, it was safer and easier to hit the crack dealer on the corner.
I lived in a horrible home. Satan had taken my kids, my family, my home and my job.
I lived to find enough money for the next hit. And when high on whatever I smoked, I groaned and cried at God.
Where was He? Why did He leave me? Why did He allow so much pain?
I knew that answer. I wasn't worth Him sticking around me—a drug addict, a loser and a sinner.
He'd left me. He'd gone from my home. I traveled looking for him. From state to state I went, but never found Him. Darkness was just about to choke me; I gave one more cry even when no more breath seemed to be in me. I had lost hope. I had nothing. No apartment and no family. I wonder why I still lived.
That's when God touched my withered soul and said, "I never left you ... been right here by your side."
We've All Been There
Pam's question about the absence of God is not rare or uncommon. When despair hits, we assume He's left us. The reasons are many. Maybe it's not addiction to crack but a crack in our heart that begs to be healed, or sin, a hypocritical comment or harsh admonishment. Or simply, bad choices.
Whatever the reason, in our despair, God seems to be a distant, an abstract image. But He's not. He's alive, vibrant and active! He's still waiting, still calling, still loving and still hoping for us to come back.
He's hoping the child who ran away would ease back into His arms, nestle in His grace and listen to the truth: Humans are flawed, fickle, weak and often wrong. But God is forever loving, forgiving and forever our Father. He is also "...gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all His works" (Ps.145:8-9).
That compassion touched Pam. She left her destructive ways behind. She repented. And hope filled her once again. God restored her family. She now lives to serve Christ, declaring with boldness her pain soothed and her peace renewed.
And with the gratitude that replaced her grief, she declares this verse with conviction and confidence:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-7).
Receiving His kindness, His riches shine brighter in dark times. He may allow pain, but He gives us peace. He may allow loss, but He gives back much gain. And He may let grief in, but He says joy will follow.
Father, how many times I wondered about the reality of your presence, doubted your power and questioned your healing. Show me, Lord, that crisis doesn't separate you from me. Devastation doesn't end your love, nor do troubles keep you away. You are with me as I run, escape or when I sob during sleepless nights, you are with me. In Jesus' name I thank you!
What speaks to you I the midst of your pain?
How do you conquer fear and doubt?
I'd love to read your answers. Please send them by replying to this post in the comment section.
Janet Perez Ecklesis an international speaker and the author of four books. She has helped thousands conquer fear and bring back joy.