Tag Archives: pain

We Are Loved

Years ago, back when we had to watch television without fast-forwarding through the commercials, there was an ad where people would tell about various hardships they were going through (job loss, health issues etc) and they’d always end with a big grin and “But I’m loved!”

I don’t remember if it was sponsored by a Christian group or by another religious organization, but my reaction was a sarcastic “yeah, right—that makes everything okay, then”.

These were painful struggles, but the glowing smiles implied happiness and laughter, puppies and flowers, all’s right in the world.

Sometimes life hurts. A lot. Denying the pain makes it worse, and that’s what I sensed in the ads: denial.

Yet, we are loved. And that assurance means more to me each year, each speedbump that rocks my life or those of my friends. The heavier the burden, the more we need to rely on God’s loving, strengthening grace.

Nothing can separate us from His love. If everything crumbles around us, if the very worst happens,  He’ll still be there to sustain us. And somehow He’ll make something beautiful, even if it can only be seen from the far side of eternity.

When fear or discouragement jab me these days, I’ve surprised myself by retorting “But I’m loved”.

It doesn’t numb me or give me a sappy grin, but it resonates in my spirit. It stirs my confidence in the God I’m learning to trust, the God who promised never to leave nor forsake me.

Maybe it’s because I’m learning that His staying has nothing to do with me and everything to do with His character. I can’t earn His love. It was never about that.

He loves me because He formed me. He gave His own Son to save me. He sent His Spirit to live in me. And He never goes back on His word.

Because of who He is, I can say, whatever my circumstances, through smiles or through tears, “I am loved.”

And I will trust Him.

Pain and Joy

Now a man named Lazarus was sick….When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
John 11:1a, 4-6 NIV*

Jesus didn’t even have to go see Lazarus to heal him, he could have just said the word. Instead He waited until Lazarus was dead before starting out.

He loved this family. Their home seems to be one of the few genuinely safe places where He could visit without loaded questions and malice.

Loving them, knowing their faith and character and that they could pass this test, He let Lazarus the provider die.

Because there was something bigger at stake.

This was “for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (v. 4)

And as much as this was clearly about God, it wasn’t for God’s benefit. He wasn’t on an ego trip.

It was for the people, the believers. Jesus told His disciples in verse 15, “…for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.

Not for God’s sake that they could believe, but for theirs. God already knew who He is.

Jesus wept and was deeply moved by the sisters’ grief. Probably more so because He knew He could have prevented it. Given that He’d already been speaking about laying down His own life, it wasn’t a case of letting someone else pay a price He wasn’t prepared to double.

The people needed to know Him better, and joy was on its way. But that didn’t negate the pain.

Sustaining and compassionate God, help us remember in our tears that You feel our pain. Help us rely on You in faith, trusting although we don’t understand. Reveal Yourself to us, not for Your benefit but for ours, so that we can trust You more.

There are plenty of good songs about trusting God in the pain. Today I chose David Crowder*Band’s “Shadows”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

It Shouldn’t Happen at Christmas

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23, NIV*

In the past few weeks, three people have lost parents or spouses, two have received bad medical news, and another is suddenly out of work. And these are just the ones I know! News coverage expands that list dramatically.

What’s the first thing we say? “It shouldn’t happen at Christmas.”

We have this instinctive sense that Christmas is about good news, not about pain. Some of that’s spiritual—the angels came proclaiming the wonder of God with us. Some of it’s human—remembering childhood’s warm anticipation of presents and surprises.

In the midst of the celebrations, pain happens.

Maybe that’s not so bad. The pain reminds us why Jesus came.

Let’s be sensitive to those who are suffering while the culture wants them to be smiling. Last week’s devotional thought was about “faithfully administering God’s grace” and one way we can do that is to bring God with us into every encounter. May His grace in us bring comfort and a sense of peace.

Father, I praise and thank You for the gift of Your presence. Jesus—Emanuel—God with us. Because You are with us, we are not consumed. Because You have rescued us, we have hope. Let us live in You and share Your presence with those around us.

Our song this week captures the tension between pain and joy: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” sung here by Casting Crowns.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Monday was my day to post at InScribe Writers Online. If you want to check out Obedience, it carries on the theme of Let Go, Let God (my post last week here).

Blessings today!

Let Go, Let God

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:23, NIV*

We may not be able to change our circumstances, but we can change our reactions to them.

The Apostle Peter tells us Jesus “entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” The Message says He was “content to let God set things right.”** That implies He trusted God to be willing and able to do so.

And in chapter 3 Peter tells us to live the same way.

Pain, tiredness, worry… whatever stresses me-I have a strong emotional response. Same with anything I dislike or think should be done differently. Control issues, I know. And who actually rules the universe? Let me think: not me!

So when things go wrong in my day, my agenda’s thrown off-course, someone chooses to do something at home or at church that’s not what I’d choose… if I’m tired or in pain… I’m to entrust myself to God who judges justly.

Not to lie down and play martyr. Or passively-aggressively sulk. (Who, me?) Actively, positively… trust God. Commit my way to Him.

Father, sometimes there’s pain. Or tiredness, fears or struggles. But if I can’t walk away, please protect me from making things worse. Give me Your peace. Help me know You’re with me and that You have a plan.

Help me trust You and live submitted to Your leading. Help me cooperate as You retrain my mind into healthier patterns. Thank You for Big Daddy Weave’s version of “Trust and Obey” on the radio this morning to cement the teaching. Help me keep it simple, LORD. Help me trust and obey.

Here’s our song for the week: “Trust and Obey,” from Big Daddy Weave.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

**The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson