We can’t pretend to understand what the people of Houston, TX are going through with monstrous floods sweeping away their photographs, their homes, their lives. It’s a kind of struggle we can’t fathom under our Midwestern sky.
It’s easy to pretend this isn’t that big of a deal when you’re not watching every news clip, but they’re comparing this hurricane to Katrina. This means an aftermath of 8-ft high mold lines around rooms. Fridges filled with river water and rotten food. Children separated from parents. Families uprooted. FEAR.
It may not seem like it in moments of terror, when river water is washing away lives… But there is so much good that can still happen in the middle of suffering.
Eighty-two percent of you out there just rolled your eyes. You either have heard that before and feel like it’s old news or you hate it because no one understands your pain. The other 18% just stopped reading altogether 😉
We tend to put up walls when we think about any type of goodness coming from suffering. Like oil and water, our brains can’t mix them together. Yet it’s the very issue that is keeping most of us from deeper relationships with Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong – pain sucks. Been there, hate that. It’s never pleasant. But what it does do for us is strip away the excess that is blocking our souls from breathing.
Let me say it another way. Suffering takes away the things that blind us from our heart-needs on a daily basis and awakens our spirit to what it needs the most: closeness to God.
In the deepest of floods, in the mightiest of hurricanes, in the heart of terror itself stands a God who suffers with us – a God who uses disaster to kindle intimacy.
The disasters in our lives, no matter how big or small, bring confusion, isolation, and deep-throated sobs. There’s no doubt you have faced that at some point. When we look at Houston today, we must pray for healing, for reunited families, and for safety. But we also must not forget to pray that God will open their eyes to the fact that He’s been there this whole time, standing with them in the water, holding their hand. Pray that when the security they’ve built for themselves floats away, they’d find safety in the eyes of the God in front of them.
Dear friends… Disasters may look like piles of rubble and hopelessness, but I promise you, there is love in the remains.
If you’re someone who really struggles with the concept of suffering and how to process it, don’t build walls. I did that for three years and regret the steps I could’ve taken to process pain instead of suppress it.
I have a couple resources for you to check out below that really helped me in the thick of it:
A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni wasn’t born a quadriplegic. A terrible diving accident left her that way. Her life had enough pain trying to process why God would let that happen. In her latest season of life, a new struggle has appeared – chronic pain. No matter what kind of struggle you’re facing, this book will help you process through God’s place in it.
Heart Made Whole: Turning Your Unhealed Pain Into Your Greatest Strength by Christa Black Gifford
This one’s for you ladies out there. If you’re really struggling to see Jesus as an intimate presence in your life, especially when bad times hit, you’ll really like this book.
Cries of the Heart by Ravi Zacharias
If you geek out on powerful reads, this one’s for you. It’s a deep adventure toward God that uncovers how he’s been there especially when we don’t feel like he is.