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Lately I’ve had several conversations with people battling severe pain from which there seems to be no relief in sight.  “Why?” they ask.  “For what purpose?” they query.  “Where is God?” they wonder.  Then to top it off, a televangelist tells them that God doesn’t want them to be in pain, so they deduce that in some sense it’s their own fault.  From my own relatively pain-free position I try to empathize, attend to their needs, and offer words of support.  But I can see in their eyes what they’re too polite to tell me, “You have no real clue about the magnitude of my discomfort and the grinding discouragement and despair that I’m feeling.”  Their reaction to the suggestion that pain is “God’s megaphone” to get their attention, as C.S. Lewis suggests, has left them responding, “I’m all ears, but when will the answer come?”
What do I have to offer them in their suffering?  It’s not “what” I have to offer them, it’s “Who.” Ultimately, they need, as we all do, Jesus.  They need Jesus, who understands better than any other what they’re going through.  The author of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). They need Jesus, who endured the pain and suffering of the cross, and provides the final and strongest answer to all our questions about the crosses we bear in life.  According to Rev. Daniel Preus, in his book entitled Why I Am a Lutheran, “When we suffer and can see no good in our suffering, no reason in our pain, no purpose in our anguish, the Holy Spirit leads us once more to look to Jesus.  Who could have imagined that God could bring such good from such suffering (the cross)?  … Out of apparent defeat came victory – victory over sin, death, hell, and all that could hurt us.  Just as God brought the greatest possible good out of the greatest possible suffering, so will He also cause all things to `work together for good, for those who are the called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28).”

May God give us grace to look to Jesus, the Victorious One, when the megaphone of pain is blasting at full volume. -MAJ