This has been a tough year for me. Now, to be fair, there has been a lot of joyful times, but, at the same time, it has been a tough year.
On at least two occasions, my body has reminded me that I am LATE into my 40’s… in fact as I write this, my right arm is still in pain from a disc golf game I play with my boys — back in July.
In addition to physical pain, there has been heartache, suffering, and betrayals. On top of this, my friends have been suffering as well.
A year with a lot of pain in it.
And there is nothing like suffering to wreak havoc in your relationship with God. The damage pain does to our relationship with Jesus is often far, far worse than the pain itself.
The temptation is to demand some kind of relief from God. To say, “God, I have been focusing on you for a long time, now, I need you to pay up. After all, you seem to be doing OK and
I'm the one who's hurting here.”
But in the midst of a tough year, I have learned that God wants me to love him in the moment, not just love God for the moment.
Paul tell us in Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Do you catch that? Hope and affliction are both there, side by side. In my life, it seems that joy and pain live in adjoining rooms. Paul is recognizing that and he is calling us out to stay in relationship with God… no matter the circumstances. Good or Bad.
Over my life, I have learned to love God in the midst of painful times not just love him because there is an absence of pain.
You see, pain, more than anything else, can cause us to pull away from God. At the very moment we need him most, we pull back. Our soul withdraws, like a turtle into its shell. Then you not only have the heartache, you have "lost" God for awhile too.
Desolation on top of suffering.
Sometimes it takes months, even years to recover the relationship.
On a soul level, when I love God in the midst of tough times, it opens my heart and soul back up to him, right where I need him most, right in the center of the pain. Too often what we cry out for is understanding - "why, God?"
But I've learned over the years that when you are in the midst of the suffering, you don't often get understanding, and frankly, you don't need understanding - you need God.
And so dear friends I wanted to pass this along to you, for it has been a great help to me.
Love Jesus, right there, right in the midst of the pain.
Just start telling him you love him, right where you are hurting. For as you do, it enables your heart to open back up to him, it enables him to come to you in this very place.
And it is Jesus that we need.