An Open Letter to Some Desperately Hurting People

by Andy Wood on May 5, 2016

in Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Turning Points, Waiting, Words

Comforting friend. Woman consoling her sad friend.

I got chided a little this morning for good reason.  Some desperately hurting people had written comments to this post, sharing the depths of their pain, fear, frustration and even torment, and I had failed to respond to any of them.

And though it’s a little foolish to lump the hurts of people all together in one reply, I did. You can find this response also in the comments section there (#10 added later), but I thought I would share it with a larger readership with the hope that maybe it would be an encouragement to you or someone you care about. God knows it isn’t the last word on pain. It’s just what I’ve learned through some of my own.

Below is my reply.

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Dear Skye, Richard and Joshua,

Thank you for taking the time to write out of your pain, disappointment, and obvious anger toward God.  Many of the situations you describe are ones I can deal with personally.  Others, obviously, I can’t and have no clue what you are feeling.

It is interesting to me that some of the language you use is also found in the Bible, as people like David, Jeremiah, and Job hurled at God out of their pain and disappointment.  Jeremiah actually called God a liar and lived to tell about it.  I have learned He is big enough to take it.

The one thing I wish in reading the story of Job – or my story or your story – is that God had actually given Job reasons that made sense to Job. He never did. He simply said, “I am here and I am God and you aren’t.”  What I do know, both from personal experience and from what scripture teaches, are some foundational truths I have lived long enough to see.

1.  God has forever settled His love for me, regardless of my circumstances.

There is no injustice, grief, pain or loss that could ever take away the scandalous love that He displayed for me, a hopeless sinner, in giving His Son as a sacrifice for my sin.

2. There is no possible way to estimate or describe the depths of evil that this world has reduced itself to.

This is driven by three forces – pleasure at the expense of your pain, profit at the expense of your poverty, and pride at the expense of your humiliation (1 John 2:16). In addition to that, we ourselves have added to that misery by our own actions or failures to act.  And regardless of our failures, sorrows or victimization in this world, they aren’t God’s fault.

3.  There are times when it feels as though I have earned something from God because of some good things I have done.

Therefore when he doesn’t come through as I have desired or expected, He seems to be terribly unfair at best, “evil as crap” as you put it, at worst. But that perception is the voice of my pain and disappointment or the voice of an enemy whispering in my ear – an enemy that seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). But the honest truth is that if we all got what we deserved, we would all perish – not just immediately, but eternally.

4. For a true believer in Christ, he or she can cling to the promise that no Christian has ever suffered alone or without help.

Sometimes the help comes in the form of relief. Sometimes it comes in the form of walking with you through the sorrow, suffering and unanswered questions.

5.  The end of the story has yet to be told about you.

David once described his agony like this (my paraphrase): “My tears have been my only companion day and night, while they taunt me – WHERE IS YOUR GOD?”  Based on some of your reactions, I think you can relate.  I know I can. But I also know that we’re all still on the journey and your story is still being told/written.

6. For whatever reason, things have a way of getting worse before they get better.

This one has never made sense to me, at least not emotionally. I lost count of the number of times it seemed as though I made good choices (at least they were good in my view) but continued to get painful results.  At one point I said, “I have done everything anybody asked or suggested I do, and nothing works!” At another point I wrote in my journal, “If one more person tells me my solution is to wait on God, I think I’m going to punch him in the face.”  But you know what? They eventually got better.

7. Regardless of what you have lost, and your losses have been great, as believers in Christ there are two things we always have. You still have Jesus and you still have a choice. 

I wish I could say I had made that up myself.  But my pastor actually said those words to me as I was on a pay phone in a behavioral hospital, having lost everything that meant anything to me. I would say the same things to you. Regardless of what is taken from you, you still have Jesus and you still have choices.

8. Our greater hope is not in this life, but in eternity.

We often live as if this world is all there is, and people who pine away about happier days in heaven seem like escapists. But it’s true. The day will come when He will wipe every tear from your eye and there will be no more sickness, sorrow, poverty or pain.

9. God loves it when we trust Him. But one thing is greater than faith, and that’s desperation. 

This is where we pray things like, “Lord I believe… help my unbelief!” When we are hurting it’s hard to find a place of faith to hang onto. So I dare you to pray that biblical prayer: “God give me the grace to believe you when really right now I don’t trust you at all.

10. When it comes to our hurts, Christians are a mixed bag and always will be.

And the mix is about 50/50. For every believer who offers love and support, the next will act like an insensitive jerk.  But if everyone seems to be acting like insensitive jerks, I can encourage you that others won’t. I wish all of us acted like Good Samaritans or like the Father of the Prodigal Son. We don’t. And the reasons for that are as varied as the number of ways people can suffer.  But at the same time, there ARE people who are filled with compassion, love, and kindness in the name of Christ.  They will find you if you let them.

I know the pain feels endless. I know it doesn’t seem fair. I know it all appears to be God’s fault.  But pain is a mocker and appearances are deceiving.

Whether you can feel it or not or see evidence of it or not, the truth is that you have never been loved more by God than you are right now. And though He may feel a million miles away, in truth He is as close as your next breath.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara May 17, 2016 at 12:25 pm

So I’m not the only one with those kinds of journal entries . . . Thanks.

Jim November 14, 2016 at 5:58 pm

And, sorry, however well meant, your open letter is not helpful at all, as the “love” of Christ never came, nor has come, any closer to me than the moon. I was all in for Him, and I wasn’t even someone He’d wave to. Goodbye and good riddance, God.

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