Finding Comfort in God when Bad Things Happen
When terrible things happen, when our worst nightmares become reality, when it seems that there is no relief of pain and anguish … how do we find any comfort in God? Like Job, we feel the dread of this world:
For the thing that I fear comes upon me,
and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest, but trouble comes. (Job 3:25-26)
Constant worries and issues are before us. Sometimes what we worry about happens; sometimes it does not. We know worry changes nothing, but we are still consumed by the dread of what does and can happen in this world. Peace requires that we replace worry with prayer (Phil 4:6-8). Still, how can Christians maintain faith while facing the uncertainties of life and death? Now is the time that we need to get back to the foundations to help us understand how we can find some comfort.
God called what He created “good” (Gen 1). He did not create in order for terrible things to happen to His creation or to suffer corruption. His intention is for the good to be a blessing. Why, then, are there so many problems? Why is there so much evil?
Sin corrupted everything and left us with a world full of sorrow and death. Genesis 3 tells us about the fall of humanity and the sin that corrupted everything. Because of sin, creation has suffered a “bondage to decay” (Rom 8:21). Corollary to this corruption is death. Genesis 5 repeatedly says, “And he died” in order to put before us the swath of destruction left by sin. Sadly, this also means that the innocent will suffer as well. When we see the corruption and death, we need to be reminded why sin is such a problem. This doesn’t mean that every instance of suffering is a direct result of personal sin (as the book of Job demonstrates). It simply means that sin’s entrance in this world is responsible for the corruption with which we all suffer. However…
God’s plan through Christ redeems and brings all things back to Him. While we suffer corruption in this world, God’s plan was not to leave it that way. Sin destroys, but God brings healing. His plan through Christ was to bring about redemption so that we do not have to suffer the debilitating effects of sin here forever. This is why we have a hope in resurrection, as Paul indicates, again in Romans 8:20-23. Creation will be “set free from the bondage to decay” and we will see “the redemption of our bodies.” The suffering, corruption, and death that we deal with every day now will not last. We can know “that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence” (2 Cor 4:14). This is why we are to remain patient and faithful.
Trusting God means that we must take an eternal perspective. If the above point is to have any impact, we must take an eternal perspective on reality. While the world sees trouble, evil, sin, and death, taking the long view means, “we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:16-18). This is also why, when a loved one passes, we do not “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13). Hope is key, and hope requires that we look to the future through faith, knowing that God will keep His promises. Because of this…
God brings us great comfort when we trust Him and His eternal purposes. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3). God is the God of comfort and we must trust Him. We will not always understand why things happen the way they do, but we know that God is faithful to His promises. He has not promised us a life of ease. He has not promised a lack of suffering or death. But He has promised eternal life (1 John 2:25). He has promised that evil will be dealt its own death blow. And herein we take great comfort in knowing the long-term result. Death is swallowed up in victory. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:50-58).