God hasn’t promised us a rose garden. Not in this present world, anyhow. That misguided idea has no place in the message of the Christian gospel. When life seems full of pain, we need to remember what Paul said to Timothy about “enduring hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). We should also bear in mind a couple of very broad principles that are fundamental to the biblical worldview.
First, we must never forget that we live in a fallen world. If things go wrong and trials beset us, this isn’t a reflection on the power and genuineness of God’s love. Nor does it necessarily imply that we have sinned against Him or displeased Him. It simply means that the world isn’t what it’s supposed to be.
Genesis 3 tells the story of mankind’s fall from grace. This fall marred the original design of God’s creation in many ways. It separated us from our Creator and our true nature. It caused us to rebel against Him and engage in denial and self-deception. It affected our physical bodies, bringing sickness and death into the world. It threw a wrench into our relationships with one another. It introduced pain and suffering into our lives. Because of this the world in which we live today is not the world as God intended it to be. It is, in a very real sense, a defective and abnormal world.
The Good News is that the Lord is not content to leave us there. This is the second thing we need to bear in mind. Our Father in Heaven has a plan to fix the brokenness of the world and heal the pain in our personal lives. He loved us enough to send Jesus Christ, His only Son (John 3:16), to reverse the effects of the fall. Christ has come to reconcile us to God, to each other, and to our true human nature.
Of course, the Bible never gives us any reason to suppose that these changes are going to take place overnight. On the contrary, it states very clearly that while we live in the flesh, we can expect to experience “groanings” within ourselves as we look forward to the final “redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). Ultimately, a day is coming when there will be no more sickness, pain, or death, and when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). Meanwhile, there’s nothing wrong with being honest about our pain and frustration.
The men and women of the Bible understood this. David poured out his heart to God in the Psalms. Job expressed deep anguish in the midst of incredible grief and suffering. Hannah complained loudly about her childlessness. If you’re hurting, the Lord doesn’t expect you to cover it up with a plastic smile. Tell Him what you’re really thinking and feeling. He has promised never to leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He hears your prayers even in the dark times when He seems absent and silent.
In the meantime, if you need to talk to another human being, feel free to call our counselors here at Focus on the Family.
How can I hold on to my faith in God when things go wrong? As a Christian, I know that I’m supposed to “give thanks in all things” and look to the Lord for my daily needs. Yet I’ve been through some devastating experiences over the past year. How can I be thankful and trust God at a time like this?