Let’s face it, life isn’t fair.
In fact, it can be downright cruel. My prayer journal is filled with requests that break my heart and challenge my hope.
As followers of Christ, we know this life isn’t all there is and that we can expect troubles. Jesus Himself told us as much in John 16:33. But we also hope (and pray) that if we’re faithful and obedient then we’ll escape some of those troubles.
We claim God’s powerful promises, like …
… and we ask God to protect our children when they’re sowing their wild oats.
… and we ask God to restore a rocky relationship.
… and we ask God to bless our finances.
But what happens to our faith when we’ve done everything right, or at least as right as possible on our part, and God doesn’t answer those prayers? What happens when someone we love experiences heartbreak after heartbreak?
What comfort can we offer the trusting parent whose wayward child died as a result of bad decisions?
Or the believing spouse whose divorce has just been finalized?
Or the faithful business owner who is forced to file bankruptcy?
It’s hard when life’s not fair, answers aren’t found, and God seems silent.
When our lives turn upside down, we wrestle with our faith and struggle for answers. When we see our friends’ lives upended, we want to offer encouragement from God’s Word. We grasp at verses to remind our brokenhearted friends that God answers prayers and has a plan and a purpose in everything…
But it only serves as a reminder that God didn’t answer their prayers. And the plan they’re seeing unfold is filled with pain.
When words fail to bring comfort, it’s best to stop talking and start being. Being present in the moment. Being sensitive to their grief. Being confused along with our hurting friends. Job’s friends gave him plenty of advice, but no comfort. In fact, they were probably more help to Job before they opened their mouths.
Sometimes our presence is more valuable than our insight. We can’t presume to know the mind of God, nor presume that things here in the earthly realm will work out the way we hope. But we trust that some day, in time and with the Lord’s healing touch, we can look back with them and rejoice that
Heavenly Father, help us to be compassionate and sensitive when faced with life’s heartbreak–both ours and our friends’. May we bear the image of Christ in each situation we encounter this new year.