In the words of the classic television show, Boy Meets World, “Life is hard; get a helmet.”
It doesn’t take long to realize that life is hard. If you live long enough, you will face suffering. Whether it is death, sickness, betrayal, divorce, or something else, it’s bound to happen. And it sucks. When we are faced with suffering, we are faced with two choices: we are either run away from the suffering or we lean into it.
The most natural response that we all tend to prefer would be to run away. We try to minimize, control, or get over the pain. But the problem we face in our suffering is not that we need to figure out how to get over the pain, it is that we need to learn to see Christ in the midst of the pain. The natural response to pain and suffering is to run. And so we look for a series of tips on how to cope or try to find ways to just, “have more faith” in hopes that God will remove our suffering or we even try to figure out the reason behind our suffering as though we might find some hidden will of God that will make our pain stop being painful.
But when we look at the Scriptures and we encounter pain and suffering, what do we see Jesus do?
His friend Lazarus dies, and he starts crying.
Jesus doesn’t begin consoling friends and family with a sermon and encouraging them that “It was their time” or “God has a reason for everything.” He doesn’t begin to explain that there was some bigger picture going on. No, he’s honest. He cries. He cries because it sucks. His friend died. And his friend’s family is upset.
And Jesus does the same in the midst of our suffering.
He weeps with us at the graveside. He cries with us as we sign the papers. He sits alongside of you as you mourn the broken heart. And he stands next to you as you hear the bad news. This is why it is so significant when Jesus says, “And surely I will be with you always.”
Because he is with us always.
In the joys and the pains. At the celebrations and the funerals. At the births and the deaths. In the good and the bad.
Being with us doesn’t remove the suffering. But it gives us hope in the midst of it. Hope that even in the midst of the pain and with a lack of answers you are not alone. Hope that God is with you in the most difficult moments of life.
Life is hard. But remember, you’re not in this alone.