Personally, I have experienced a lot of pain. In high school I was a nihilist – nothing had purpose. Sure I was an intellectual, but hidden behind that was a huge amount of depression, isolation, and perversion. Upon entering college, I was crushed as the girl I was engaged to ripped my heart out by cheating on me…not a very “fun” experience! Have you ever cried yourself to sleep every night for weeks on end, crying out to a God you don’t know!? Meanwhile, at the math department, the students I tutored invited me to Church. I finally caved in after a few weeks, and during the worship service, I lifted my hands in the air realizing that God loved me. The worship pastor helped bring me into the presence of God. Later that year I was baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by the head pastor and realized how forgiving God is.
…one year later, it was discovered that the pastor’s daughter was being molested by the worship pastor and two weeks later it was also discovered that the head pastor was also molesting his daughter. This poor 15 year old girl had been molested since age 9 by the two most “spiritual men” she had ever known.
Where was God in the midst of that?
It was these two men that personally helped me come to know God – where was God? For me, I had no doubts that God was there the entire time and my faith only solidified all the more. I had experienced large amounts of pain before I became a believer and seeing more pain now only made me realize all the more that God was there all the more and that He was gracious. Not once did I waver in my faith. I stood strong and went to the authorities to turn these two men in, even when the denominational head threatened me to be quiet.
This is a horrific story and it is true. And there are many other stories like this concerning people you speak to on a daily basis. So where is God? If God is Good and if God is Powerful, why does He allow all of this evil to exist? For many, this logic has destroyed their faith in God. Perhaps we are to self-absorbed and asking the wrong questions. When Adam & Eve ate the fruit, they knew the consequences! They brought the pain and suffering upon themselves. God is just to allow this suffering. But there is more to the story: God became a man, being born of Mary, living and preaching the Gospel, crucified on the Cross, was raised from the dead, conquered death and corruption, and ascended into Heaven. If we follow Christ, we too must die! How many times are we told to endure, to take up our cross and daily die, to count suffering as joy, we can only enter the process of salvation by partaking of the sufferings of Christ! Not only is God just to allow suffering, God is gracious to allow us to partake in His sufferings! We are perfected through suffering with Christ.
I am sorry if you feel as though I have minimized the pain you have personally experienced, this is not my goal. I hope to encourage you in your journey. There will be pain, it is simply a matter of how you face your pain. Will you despise it or will you embrace it. And when you see others in pain, will you ignore it or enter into their pain with them. I hope you will embrace it and enter into the pain of others, following the perfect example of Christ.