Making Sense of Pain

Through the years, I have met numerous people who reject God because of some painful experience in their life. For example, one man watched his dad die of cancer, another person witnessed her brother’s struggles, and still, another suffered under the hands of an abusive parent.  Each story is genuinely agonizing, and I cannot imagine the hurt these people feel.

Each one then told me how they could not believe in a God who allowed such evil in the world. So they rejected any faith and walked away from the Lord and the Church forever.

After hearing stories like these, I have one question I like to ask, and I have yet to receive a satisfying answer.  I simply ask, “How did giving up on God make your life better?” 

Usually, I am greeted with a blank stare.  One lady muttered, and another person got angry.   Still, no one has been able to explain to me how a rejection of God made their pain any easier.  If they let me keep talking, I like to tell them, “Unfortunately, you removed all hope from the situation.”  I explain how their father’s death was just a sad ending, their brother will die without forgiveness, and their abusive parent will never see any justice served.  This is not an attempt to be cruel; rather, a chance for them to process their thinking. 

I firmly believe that only does our faith in God makes sense of pain.  He offers eternal life, a heavenly body, and a final judgment.  Everyone lives through hurt, difficulty, and death.  Faith in God can take every situation and turn it into a positive one.  Dark nights of the soul are moments when we can run from God, but that never makes life any better.  The help, health, and hope we need are only found in a God who loves us so much that he sent his son that we might have eternity with him. 

When life is at its most challenging, lean into God and learn to trust him more.  That does not mean that things will immediately get better, but it does give us a perspective that there is hope to be found somewhere in the story.  The old song used to say, “Leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.”  That is the place where grace and goodness are found, and there is no good reason to run from them. 

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