Pastor John asks: "My friend, are you hurting today? Are you feeling as if God has abandoned you, that He went away and took the checkbook with Him?" There is no doubt that most of feel like that sometimes!
An aching soul is not necessarily an evidence of neurosis or spiritual immaturity, but of realism. However, many of God's people will spend most of their Christian lives trying to ease the pain and escape from their groaning. The great Apostle Paul lived with an aching soul, and probably physical pain as well. Listen to him, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me…Three times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, 'My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NLT). Some say this was a physical ailment, perhaps Paul's bad eyesight, others that it was a person tormenting him. Either way, he was hurting!
Let’s take a long, hard look at ourselves. What’s your pain? I know too much introspection is unhealthy, but too little can be devastating. To focus on our pain and heartache can be depressing, and it could leave us cynical, and dejected. At best, most of us go through life by coping, not by changing. Just look at the incredible things we do to try to alleviate our pain.
1. Work: As long as our minds are occupied, we’re OK. So we work, seven days a week, ten to twelve hours a day, because when we’re working we don’t have to worry about our pain or our relationship with God and others.
2. Church: Some try to cope with their particular pain with church stuff. Trying to cope with a problem marriage or trouble with the children by immersing ourselves in religious activities. I have seen wives in a bad marriage try to supplant their impossible home situation with work at the church, and much of the time, their absence from the home makes it worse.
3. Many try alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, even among God’s people! The pain is so intense some will use anything to try to ease the hurt.
4. Recreation is another means of escape. “He who dies with the most toys, wins,” is a great lie of Satan! Boats, campers, motorhomes, dirt bikes, et al. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, if they do not take away from your service to God. Evangelist Billy Sunday (1862–1935) preached against riding bicycles, because people were going on long bike rides on Sunday morning, rather than going to church.
5. Entertainment is another escape from the pain. But it can never satisfy, you always want more. In order to avoid a confrontation with your deepest feelings or a confrontation with God, many metaphorically go through life with a boom box blasting, the television on, or an I-Pod blaring. The answer to dealing with pain seems to be just turn up the volume.”
6. Or, unfortunately, some are in so much pain they turn to the most selfish act of all, suicide. Most of us know someone who could no longer cope, so in an effort to end the hurt, they leave others to live with the pain and guilt of their final act of desperation.
One thing is certain, there will always be pain, longing, anguish, and sometimes even despair. Some preachers tell us we can live without pain, suffering, sickness and disease in perfect health, peace and harmony, but that doesn’t wash with Scripture. God’s children have always had to live with pain.
Maybe you’re going through a very difficult time right now, you’re hurting and your troubled mind feels that God has abandoned you, that He can’t be bothered with your heartache, it seems as if He has forsaken you. You feel as if God went on vacation and took the checkbook with Him. It may be the most hurt you have ever experienced, perhaps you feel as if God has not only betrayed you, but that He’s not concerned with the pain though which you’re going. You are not the first person to feel like that.
The people of Israel were in Babylonian captivity: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1-3).
Do you think they were not hurting? What’s the lesson here? You cannot sing the Lord’s music when you are the foreign land of…pain, depression,” anxiety, anguish,” or grief.
I said, “God, I hurt.” And God said, I know.”
I said, “God, I cry a lot.” And God said,
“That is why I gave you tears.”
I said, “God, I am so depressed.”
And God said, “That is why I gave you Sunshine.”
I said, “God, life is so hard.” And God said,
“That is why I gave you loved ones.”
I said, "God my loved-one died."
And God said, “So did mine.”
I said, “God, it is such a loss.”
And God said, I saw mine nailed to a cross.”
I said, “God, but your loved one lives.” And God said, “So does yours.”
I said, “God, where are they now?”
And God said, “Mine is on My right and yours is in the Light.”
I said, "God it hurts." And God said, I know.”
Written by K. C. and Myke Kuzmic
–Posted on the wall at the Oklahoma City, Murrah Building. bombing site–