Suffering is one of those things that everyone will deal with at some point. None of us are exempt from the touch of sin in this world. Suffering is difficult for anyone regardless of their relationship with God, but knowing Jesus and all of his promises can add a layer of complexity to our difficult seasons. If God is good, then why does he allow suffering to occur? This question was the topic of my message last Sunday. If you missed it, you can watch it by clicking here.
Suffering was never part of God’s plan for humanity. Genesis tells us that sin entered the world through man and woman choosing their desires above God’s perfect gifts for us. We’ve paid the price ever since. Even though we live in a world ravaged by sin, God promises to never leave us in the midst of our pain.
For some of us reading now, you are in a season of pain. Maybe it comes in the form of depression, unhealed emotional wounds, or tragedies that time has never healed. For some, you know others going through great difficulty.
As I mentioned before, followers of Jesus have to reconcile the joyful promises of Jesus with our current realities. Sometimes knowing that Jesus never leaves our side is not enough to break the cycle our minds feel. While Jesus IS enough for all of us, knowing Jesus is enough can be hard for our hurting brains to comprehend. This might lead to thoughts that it would be better to end the suffering or that everyone else would be better off if they didn’t have to deal with your problems. If you’ve found yourself thinking this during seasons of suffering, I want you to know that you’re not alone. You have value. The world would miss you. God still has a purpose for you.
When I read John 11, I see a God that is not far off and separate from our pain. On the contrary, in this story, Jesus is with Martha and Mary during the grieving for their brother. Scripture says, Jesus was deeply moved and began weeping. Their story is also our story. What I find interesting is that Jesus is not only weeping with Mary and Martha, but he never scolds them for struggling with deep emotions.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and I don’t want to underestimate how the world and ultimately Satan is attacking those reading right now. If you are having these thoughts or have made plans, it’s not too late. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness but an act of courage. It takes incredible strength to stand up and say you need others to walk with you.
If you need help, please reach out to someone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately. Our church also provides many free resources to help navigate seasons of suffering. If you’re not in immediate danger, you can call our office at 520-298-5395 and get a pastor at any time. We have many care groups, offer free in-person peer counseling, and have an online group available for those that don’t live in Tucson. Call our office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to connect you with the right resources.
Pain and suffering is only a problem if we go through it alone. The good news of Jesus is that we’re not alone. Be courageous today.
Every week the opportunity is given to Pastors to prepare sermons. For Pantano, this process begins many months in advance. As Pastor Glen has shared before, sermon topics and basic outlines are typically planned a full year out. As the week approaches for a specific message, the writing process gets more focused. Months of praying about a message, researching, and planning always create more information than anyone could communicate effectively in thirty minutes. As a result, each week, we do not have the time to say every single thing we wanted to express in our time frame. As I prepared my message on “Can we trust the Bible?” a similar process happened. I’m excited to be able to continue the conversation from my message to this blog post!
Trusting the Bible goes beyond just knowing the history behind our scriptures is accurate and reliable. While I believe it is essential to understand the accuracy of God’s word, we live in the heart implications of relating to the Bible. When the Bible speaks on _______, how does that affect me? What does it do to my actions, past/future decisions, and so forth? These questions are tough, and they don’t always have an easy answer. As a result, serious questions can affect our trust in the Bible and our desire to apply it to our lives.
How do we handle questions like:
These are great questions, and I would encourage you to lean into them and their implications. Some might be tempted to say, “I’ll just trust God and leave that to someone else.” While that approach removes the temporary discomfort of hard questions and situations, it leaves the underlying issue and ultimately creates trust issues. For us to have the best relationship with God, our trust of him and his words need to be the healthiest possible. Below are some suggestions for you to dig into these questions and strengthen your confidence. One final note: I believe that growth is mostly painful, but it is incredible. Even though your questions might cause discomfort and create even more questions, know that you are not alone. God’s promise to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) is still true.
I want to encourage you to dig into the tough parts of our faith in Jesus. It’s ok to ask questions, but we’ll never know if the Bible is accurate, relevant, or trustworthy until we engage it for ourselves. I believe that God is excited to journey with you as you ask questions, seek the truth, and knock on the door to greater faith.
On the journey with you,
Pastor Nick Farr