The Anchor of Hope: When Life Hurts Most" by Louie Giglio. He described the pain that does not resolve by 9 AM the next morning, the soul-shaking trials that make us question God.
As he read an email from a young man genuinely struggling with why God did not answer his prayers to save his sister's life, I could hear the echo of my own words. I've felt those things, written those things so many times. I've read books and prayed and discussed, but sometimes my soul still cries out like a child asking where God is when I hurt.
Louie admitted he was left speechless by the painful email but that God reveals five things we can cling to when this hurricane of a spiritual storm assails us. Those five things are found in the cross of Jesus.
1) At the cross, we see God loves us.
"How could God love me if he's letting this happen?" At the cross we find that we are loved deeply by God, enough to allow his Son to be tortured, rejected, and brutally murdered for us. Not only this, but he loved us first, while we were still rebellious against him. He paid what he knew we could never pay so we could have eternal life.
2) At the cross, we see God allows human freedom but maintains control.
God allowed soldiers and leaders and the crowd to crucify Jesus, but Pilate was reminded that the only power he had had come from above. God was in total control of the crucifixion, allowing men to freely make evil choices all for His ultimate purpose of salvation.
3) At the cross, we see God can use the worst circumstances for eternal good.
It doesn't get much worse, humanly speaking, than to see the Son of the eternal God hanging bloody and dead on a cross between two criminals. On Good Friday, it appeared as if God had allowed the worst to happen. If we were witnesses on that day, we would not see the salvation that God had planned. The Son of Man had been executed, but through that horrific event and the resurrection, everlasting life became available to all people, as well as the complete forgiveness of sin.
4) At the cross, we see God paints on a canvas bigger than we can understand.
It's impossible for us to have the eternal perspective on our circumstances that God does. When he orders events, it's not just for immediate satisfaction but for eternal sanctification. He is more concerned about eternal matters, and that can sometimes be the reason our finite minds can't comprehend why the pain lasts and lasts.
5) At the cross, God proves he understands our pain.
Jesus was fully man and fully God at the same time. As hard as it is to grasp, Jesus suffering on this earth and dying the way he did enabled him to experientially relate to us in a completely sympathetic way. He was tested and tempted beyond what we've ever faced and knew the agony of pain. He is the only one who can perfectly understand what you're going through right now, and that is of the utmost importance when we feel lonely and misunderstood in trial.
To me, the points of this message boiled down to God saying these 5 things:
"I love you."
"I'm in control."
"I'm working this all for good."
"I can see the bigger picture you can't yet see."
Like a trace of unearthed gold catching the sun, I can sometimes see glimmers of pain's
hidden purposes - to better sympathize with others, to grow more dependent upon and more in love with Jesus, to develop the patience and endurance God desires
in me. But for those times I can't see any purpose, when the suffering is real and overwhelming, I can rest in the sure hope of the cross and my Savior who suffered there for me.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”