3 Things to Remember When God Doesn't Take Away Your Pain
I stared up at the ceiling in the early hours of December 13, 2011. It was 3 AM and I had yet to sleep. My fluffy little dog snored away by my side; oblivious to the turmoil and tears overflowing from my saddened soul. I couldn't even laugh as I felt her tiny paws running against my leg as she happily chased squirrels in her dreams. Now was the time for sorrow. Now was the time for grief.
For many months I prayed that God would restore my marriage. Every day for nine months I pleaded with God to intervene. To miraculously change my husband's heart. To heal the wounds in his heart that I had somehow caused and bring him back to me. I know God and I were on the same page. God is a marriage supporter. An advocate for life-long unions modeled after the relationship he has with his church.
And yet...God allows man and woman to make their own choices.
From the moment Adam and Eve introduced sorrow into the world by choosing sin over God we were plunged into a state of chaos. Required to decide whom we will serve. Who we will worship and praise. Who we will hear and not hear.
In my stubborn heart I don't like to be told what to do. If God said I had to worship him and him alone- OR ELSE- I'm not sure that I would make the right choice because I'm flawed and I'm prideful.
Jesus asked for God three times to remove the pain and sorrow he faced at the cross even thought he was sinless:
Matthew 26:36-39- Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face rand prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."
But there IS a purpose in this pain. A redemptive, all-knowing, God purpose that gives us hope even as we endure what God knew would have to happen.
Here are three things to remember as you attempt to see the truth through all of the pain that God has allowed:
1. This pain is not God's fault. He created a sinless and perfect world. His intention was to live with us in unity and peace. While we can choose God with our free will, we can also choose to walk away from him. Regardless of our choice, God is not the source of our pain. Fallen humans hurt us. Yes, God could've stepped in and forced us to behave, but instead he allows his people to come to him in absolute desire for relationship with the only holy one. We can't blame God for giving us the power to come to him while also blaming him for not preventing our pain.
2. God called us to share in the suffering of Jesus for a reason. I love to meet people who have been divorced. Not because I want people to go through a terrible experience such as this, but because I immediately feel a kinship with that person. No matter what the circumstances are surrounding his/her divorce, we can relate on a level that others cannot because of what we have been through. To truly know and understand us, Jesus endured immense suffering on the cross. And not only so he could know US but so WE could know him. So our faith may be proven to be real and intentional regardless of our sufferings:
Philippians 3:8-10- Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
3. You don't have to apologize for feeling your pain. It doesn't matter how long it has been since your loss. Or how many ways God has shown you the purposes of your pain. It doesn't even matter if you've told others you're over the pain when really you feel it every single day. The grief you feel may last your entire lifetime, but that doesn't mean you have to be consumed by it or fearful to share that it is still there. Yes, God does heal the brokenhearted but that does not mean we are without scars and lingering wounds that we will feel for years to come. It's okay to feel that loss. You do not have to "let it go" or "get over it". It doesn't mean that you are bitter or holding a grudge just because you still feel pain. God continually feels sorrow when he is separated from those he loves. There is no "right" way to grieve and there is no set timeframe in which we must process our grief.
It's been nearly seven years since my divorce. God has not removed the pain, but has allowed me to face it in different ways than when it first occurred. I sleep now. I don't cry constantly. I am able to see how he has brought us closer together in ways I would've never imagined. But it's still there. I carry the sorrow with me, but I know he understands. He's been there. I know he hears me and that makes all the difference.