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When The Pain Is Too Painful

Have you ever experienced something in life so painful that you wanted to shut down and never turn back on? Have you ever felt so crushed that, at least for the moment, you couldn’t imagine ever getting back up?

For me, it was the physical trauma that accompanied my kidney damage. I will never be able to adequately describe it to you. This was pain like I never knew existed. My body went into spasms, and the pain was focused on my groin area where it felt as if someone had stuck me with a knife.

The spasms came with ferocity every two or three minutes. The pain was so intolerable that involuntary screams just came out of me, for thirty-six hours straight.

As I screamed, I couldn’t understand why someone in the hospital didn’t do something to relieve my pain. My son Ethan explained it to me: “Dad, they’re not worried about your pain right now; they’re worried about saving your life. When you’re stable, they’ll give you something for your pain.”

After a particularly horrible and longer-than-usual spasm, in tears I looked at Luella and told her I wanted to die.

Maybe you won’t experience acute physical suffering like mine, but in a fallen world, you will inevitably encounter some form of physical, emotional, or relational agony.

The deterioration of your health. Suddenly and inexplicably losing your job. The death of a loved one. Being abandoned or betrayed by someone you thought you could trust. The collapse of a lifelong dream.

So what do you do when the pain is so deep that you can’t think of anything else but the pain?

For me, in between the screams that the spasms triggered, the only words I could muster were, “God, help me! God, help me! God, help me!”

Why was that simple, almost cliché, prayer so needed and so comforting? Because the One to whom I was crying was not distant; He was near.

The central lie of Satan to all God’s suffering children comes in the form of this question: “Where is your God now?” The lie embedded in this question is that our suffering is clear evidence that we have been forsaken by God. Meanwhile, the Bible presents us with this promise from Joshua 1:5 (and numerous other passages) – “I will not leave you or forsake you.”

I’ll be honest. Suffering defeated me. There were times when the pain was too much. But in all the emotional and spiritual ups and downs, on the good days and the bad days, whether I fought or succumbed, one thing was sure.

My Lord was with me, and he is there for you, and there is no struggle without or war within that will ever drive him away. And his presence guarantees that in your suffering, you will have everything you need.

So when the pain is too painful, with so many things to worry about, you don’t have to waste your spiritual and emotional energy on the fear that you will be forsaken by your Heavenly Father.

He is in you, he is with you, he is for you, and he will never leave.

By Paul Tripp

Father’s Day and the Example of Joshua