The other day I was thinking about suffering–the tragedies and physical pain we experience throughout our lives. The global pandemic we’re in now, especially. Some raw, aching questions have been swirling in my head.
Why do we have to experience pain? Why does God use suffering and struggle? Why are thousands of people losing their lives to this virus?
I easily become overwhelmed and burdened by the hardships we’re facing in this crisis, and it weighs heavy on my heart.
As I thought about everything–the heartache, anxiety, fear, and death because of the virus–it reminded me of a deep darkness.
But then something struck me. In darkness, stars shine bright. In fact, the darker it is, the brighter they are. In the city you can hardly see stars. Even in the suburbs, star sighting is limited on a clear night. But get out into the country? In the middle of nowhere? A pitch black night? Billions of stars surge across the night sky.
the one source of light & hope
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12
We don’t need anyone to tell us that the world is a dark place. We grow up and discover it for ourselves. We live in a broken world filled with broken people. There are disappointments. There are tragedies. There are struggles. There are horrible things that happen.
Jesus came here not to just shed some light, but to literally be the Light.
There is an incredible verse I constantly come back to when things seem hopeless, and the dread of uncertainty overwhelms me. It’s this:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
This time has caused us to reevaluate–to really think. To ponder our short, precious lives. To remember our own mortality. To invest in family relationships. To connect with friends. To catch up on sleep. To support our local communities. To slow down in prayer and meditating on God’s Word… or for some, to entertain the idea of a God existing, for the first time in a long while, or ever.
He is sovereign. Everything happens for His perfect purposes. He uses the pain and suffering to show how He is the only escape from the darkness–that freedom, healing hearts, and joy come through Him alone.
For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness… This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.Psalm 18:28, 30
When we place our hope and trust in Jesus as the Son of God–Who lived a perfect life as fully God and fully human, suffered a grueling death for us, and was raised from the dead by God the Father (Romans 10:9)–we are asking Him to forgive the darkness in us from our sins and to transform us, and He brings us into His light. He sustains us with His perfect, unconditional, steadfast love. And He gives us hope–the kind of hope that does not depend on circumstances. You can learn more about accepting that amazing gift here.
Ultimately, we as followers of Jesus have the hope of eternity with Him!–where there is no suffering, tears, cancer, anxiety, heartbreak, broken relationships, diseases, pain, or death (Revelation 21:4).
No matter what we face, or what hardship we endure–from losing a loved one, to struggling with depression, enduring a natural disaster, family conflicts, a devastating global pandemic–we can be certain that the Lord is using it for His glory, and that we, as followers of Christ, are “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:11-14).
Remembering that God uses the darkness to illuminate His love for people, it brings me so much comfort and joy, especially as I grapple with the suffering going on in our broken world right now.
stars shining bright
Last night, there was a patch of sky between these huge white clouds covering most of the atmosphere, and in that dark patch, stars twinkled. The breathtaking sight reminded me of how big God is.
He’s got this. He’s using it. He’s here to comfort us. He’s beckoning people to follow Him. And He’s calling His children to shine bright, even in the darkest of times, because Jesus Christ is victorious.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:5