I recently read C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain. However, he sets forth a significant caveat early in his book. He says, “I shall not attempt to prove that to create was better than not to create[.]” I would like to read an intellectually honest book or article on this issue. Do you have a suggestion?
Many years ago, I sat as a young child in my small congregation listening to a visiting evangelist. He asked a simple question, “Who here wants to go to heaven?” Everyone quickly raised their hands. His follow-up question, “Who here wants to go tonight?” A bit stunned, everyone looked around at each other as if in agreement, laughed, and kept their hands firmly planted in their laps.
That made a lasting impression on me. It was one of many discrepancies I saw between what Christians in my life taught and what they lived. If heaven really is great, if that’s the place the God of the universe and the Lord of our lives has created to spend eternity with us, if it is the culmination of God’s perfect plan, a place of no tears, our true home…if heaven is all these things, then why don’t we want to be there now?
I was and remain on the other end of that spectrum. Oh, how I want to be home with my God. I don’t know how one can store up treasures in heaven, make God one’s best friend, strive to be like Jesus, plan and look forward to heaven each and every day, and yet somehow want to stay here. I don’t. I want to be home. With all my being, I want to be home.
Bedtime is ahead of me. I know I am not the only one who faces it with dread – the time that too often stretch into hours as you fight the darkness, silence, and aloneness. No gadgets or tasks to take one’s mind off the painfully obvious: you hurt more than your heart can bear. Life can hurt so terribly bad sometimes. I have no answers. I wish I was home with my God, but for the time being, I am here…facing bedtime…facing undistracted time alone with crippling hurt.
I have no answers.
I simply know I live in a fallen, imperfect, sometimes cruel and painful world. I know God has great love for me. And, one day, I will be home with Him. My hope for all who hurt is that you know God’s great love for you. I say a special prayer for you this night.
(True story.) Not too long ago, I sat alone feeling sorry for myself. It was a Friday night and I felt especially alone and empty. I made a half-hearted attempt to find company online, but failed miserably. That night passed for me, as did the weekend, and early the next week I read an article in the newspaper about a person who lived only a few blocks from me. It turns out, she too must have felt alone and empty. In fact, her distress must have been immense. She ended her life. At the same time I was hurt and wanting help for myself, she sat a few streets away needing my help. If only I had known…
Not all suicides can be prevented and it is not my goal to do so. Competent individuals have a right to self-determination and autonomy. That being said, you don’t have to hurt alone. There are people who will love you for the unique, precious, invaluable individual you are. They will love you because they have been loved, no strings attached. If you are hurting, please reach out…don’t hurt alone.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything – a time to weep, a time to mourn, a time to give up as lost, a time to throw away. I want to give this time of loss and hurt its proper significance. I don’t want to minimize it, pretend it doesn’t exist, or try to analyze the pain out of it. It is real and it deserves recognition and mourning. Now is that time.
Words of a song reverberate in my soul – “Though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm.” I am not convinced I am praising God, but I stand in still, painful silence accepting God’s wisdom, sovereignty, and love.
My heart aches intensely tonight. The pain and shock are debilitating and I have run to my Bible in desperation. You see, I am not an elite Christian by any means. Instead, I am quite a battered and beaten one, so my desperation is sincere. I am not here out of noble faith and unflinching obedience. I am at this place because there is no place else to be with hurt so profound. And, at least for a moment, I have found a bit of a reprieve:
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies…. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” – II Corinthians 4:8-10, 17-18
I have never heard these words spoken aloud, but life has impressed their truth upon me.
Do you know this place?
I feel it, too.