Sometimes people don’t know what to say to you when you’re in chaos. For a period of time, my life was a mess. We faced family illnesses and kid problems that we would’ve never imagined. With God’s help, I’m still standing.
I have a few close friends who walked beside me through my own storms. I also have a few judging acquaintances who uttered hurtful things in the midst of my challenges.
Here are some things not to say to someone in a storm:
“You’re wasting a lot of energy on your pain.” Real pain can consume me. It will eventually pass but not until it has done its work in my heart. I used to be afraid of pain. Now I know it has come to do some work in my life and bring me closer to God. Pain is never wasted energy and never without a point. So I ask: What is it I need to learn from my current situation?
“After the pain, the joy will come back.” Are pain and joy only to be experienced separate from one another? The real challenge is to find joy within the pain. God’s presence in the midst of pain is a shining joy known only to the suffering.
“Your own past sin has caused your present pain.” Are you kidding? Would you ever say this to a friend? God’s grace is for you today and, upon your salvation, covers the transgressions of your past. Don’t let anyone tell you anything to the contrary.
“Your suffering is pointless.” God does not waste pain and that shouldn’t surprise me. 1 Peter 4: 12-13 reminds us: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.”
“If your God is good, he won’t allow you to suffer.” In addition to offending my faith, this statement reflects a shallow understanding of the depth of Christ’s fellowship. Just because I love God does not mean he is obligated to rescue me from my pain. He does something better. He is with me in the midst of it all. Psalm 34:18 reminds us, “He is the God who is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Do you feel like your life is a mess right now? Rather than fighting and raging against the injustice of it all, recognize that God is present with you through it all.