The sound of his voice gave away the magnitude of the situation. My little boy–now grown–was hurting, and that made me hurt. Worse, I was utterly helpless.
As parents, we don’t want our children to hurt, to experience pain and suffering. It would be wonderful if we could steer them around and over places of pain but sometimes it just has to happen.
This painful moment in my son’s life was not, but it hurt him pretty bad. Things had not worked out the way he expected or wanted.
Maybe because he didn’t do all that was necessary or the time was just not right. Either way– and it didn’t matter to me–I knew he was hurting. Worst of all I had to let it happen. If I fixed it, he would not learn to walk through difficulties and disappointments, and they will come and sometimes with venom. He had to experience this pain to be stronger, wiser, more mature.
I imagine God looks at his children similarly. He loves us, His children, and I believe He hurts when we are hurting. The pain could come from loss, disappointment, the attacks of the world or the consequences of our sin. He could take away every trial and tribulation, but because He sees the big picture, He instead allows us to trudge through…to be stronger, wiser, more mature.
What do we learn, as God’s children when we are in similar situations as my son found himself, hurting from failure, regretting decisions or the sting of disappointment?
You are not alone.
Throughout their wandering, the Israelites were never alone. God always went before them, and today that truth remains. God promises never to leave us nor forsake us. Amid our pain, we have the comfort of His grace and mercy.
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 3:8
Pain has a purpose.
We do not experience pain for no reason. I believe there is more than one purpose. For one the world is watching our response to suffering. When people see us answer pain with faith, peace, and dependence on God’s strength, they see Jesus. Secondly, our pain helps us comfort others. As we pass through suffering, we can have compassion for those who walk through the same pain.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Grows a dependence on Him.
Until we meet pain, we try to use our own strength, but when we are hurting, we feel weak. Paul suffered continuously working to spread the gospel, yet he says that is when he is strongest. His pain kept him dependent on God. The answer to Paul’s plea to remove “the thorn” from his flesh reminds us that God’s strength comes when we are weakest.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7, 9
This phone call from my son was not the first time he felt the sting of disappointment or failure, and as we know from experience, it won’t be the last. The hardest thing besides hearing the hurt in his voice was to deny the urge to fix the situation.
Instead, I let him know I was there, reminded him to learn from the experience and reminded him that the next time something like this comes, he would be able to persevere. Each time he walks through difficulty he becomes stronger, wiser and a little more mature.
When difficulty and pain comes, and it will, I hope you will lean on the truth that God is with you, you will get through, and His grace is all you need.
Father God, we love you. We praise you that our pain has a purpose, that we are not alone as we pass through, and that your grace is all we need. Help us to trust you and lean on Your strength. Lead us to those in pain that we can comfort for your glory.