I want to make one thing very, very, very clear.
I believe, with each ounce of my being, that God is good. In all things. And even when circumstances seem insurmountable… overwhelming… suffocating… God is not only at work, but he is working all of these circumstances for His purpose and for His glory for those who love him.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
It's one of the deepest joys of the Christian belief, really. After all, how does one deal with pain in this world without such an understanding of this truth? Without belief in a God who is good through all things, life would be, well, insurmountable, overwhelming, and suffocating.
But even with knowledge of this goodness and with complete trust in the Lord's purpose and plan there are no doubt moments when the pain of life seems too great to bear.
For the past few months, our family has been fervently praying for a dear friend of ours who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Knowing her family so closely and watching them endure this difficult road has been hard. What can one even say to offer sincere support and love during such a challenging time?
I'm sorry seem to be the only words that can offer any sort of meaning.
After all, this family is a Christian family. They too hold onto the hope that even through dark valleys the Lord is accomplishing great things. They know that the Lord loves them. They know that He will give them the strength, peace, endurance, and grace needed to endure this road. They know that we are here for them. They know that this is the Lord's will. And while I'd love to fill out a card with comforting words, I know that they know these things already. I'm not totally convinced that's what they need to hear.
For the past few weeks, we (me and Sally Belle… milking is my prayer time) have been praying heavily for another friend of ours that was suffering with an undiagnosed illness. We prayed fervently for his recovery – and prayed for a quick one at that (after all, his wedding date was weeks away).
And while we were enduring the plague last week (and feeling quite sorry for ourselves at that), we received word from his family that he had been diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. He's turned twenty five years old the next day.
I sobbed. Not for me, obviously. And not even really for him, though my heart ached for the path he must travel (though as a Christian, it brings great joy to trust in the Lord's promise for our souls that will rest with Christ eternally).
Instead, I prayed, and cried, and prayed again for those on this road with him. For his fiance. For his Mom. For his sisters. For his friends. For all of those people who love him so much that life without him may seem impossible. For those that are having to endure a dark, deep, scary valley. For those that mourn even the idea of a day without him.
And, again, the only words of comfort I can muster: I'm sorry.
I'm sorry that you're having to go through this.
I'm so, so sorry that this is a burden you are having to bear.
A fellow Christian and friend phrased circumstances such as this as “deeply hard Divine Providence” which I think is a beautiful phrasing of such hardships.
In theology, divine providence, or providence, is God's intervention in the world. “Divine Providence” (usually capitalized) is also used as a title of God. A distinction is usually made between “general providence”, which refers to God's continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the universe, and “special providence”, which refers to God's extraordinary intervention in the life of people. SOURCE
It's not that God isn't in these burdened lives – it's not as if he's shunned his followers, fails to love them, or is punishing them for their sin. The Lord not only perfectly ordered it to be this way, at this very moment, but He is with them through these valleys.
And that brings me great hope. And I know it brings great hope to these families.
I must admit, my days are still tearful. Though they're not always tears of sadness.
Many days, they're tears of rejoicing. Rejoicing that there is a God out there who loves us so desperately, as shown in the death and resurrection of Christ, that even in the lowest of moments here on earth we can still radically feel His goodness.
Regardless of what lay ahead for both of our dear friends, we can completely rest in the truth that God loves us, delights to forgive us of our sins, and is always working for the good of those whom love him. Praise God!