Explain My Pain

July 16, 2008

I sat in a chair beside the wrap-around sofa, my heart breaking as I pondered his situation.  His frail limbs barely resemble the strong form I recall from our first meeting, only two years ago.  Here was a man who scaled cliffs now appearing as if a gentle breeze might blow the dust off his frame, leaving only the bones.  He’s only in his 50s, and cancer is winning.  

A picture of his only son and him, smiling on a faraway mountaintop in Malaysia, hung on the wall of the den.  His baby granddaughter, not even a year old, was taking her morning nap in the back bedroom.  His wife, cheeks wet with tears, sat closely by his side on the couch.  A Hospice folder was lying on the footrest in front of my chair.  They know.  We all knew. 

“How’s your faith?” I asked.  This man has always encouraged me with his tenacious confidence in God, and his answer today didn’t disappoint. 

“God knows best,” he said.  “I don’t want to leave my family, but I’m looking forward to see Jesus.” 

He said a lot more too, but that was the gist of it.  His faith is sturdy — inspiring even. 

That’s what it seems to come down to in suffering: faith.  Will we trust God, even when we don’t understand why?  John Piper has just written one of the most helpful little articles I’ve ever read on this subject.  You must take a minute to read Why God Doesn’t Fully Explain Pain.  Even if you’re not asking God “Why?” right now, the day will likely come when pain of one sort or another will press that question onto your heart.  Read the article. 

Barring a miracle, I don’t expect to visit my friend many more times.  But his faith, even in suffering, makes me confident that we will meet again one day.

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