April McGowan

Happy Shiny People

I’ve been pondering the idea that good Christians don’t complain—no matter how difficult their circumstances. Since I’ve been dealing with illness for the past couple…er…many years (see previous posts) I’ve had a lot of time to think about this.

I’ve heard the following statement many times; maybe you’ve heard it too:

“They suffered from (insert type of suffering here) for ages, and not once did they complain or ask why me!” (This is usually said with an admiring voice.)

I don’t know about you, but statements like that can make me question my faith.

I’ve read many books on suffering (there’s some great ones out there) and none of them chided me for feeling down, for feeling at odds with myself, or for questioning God’s plan for my life. Instead, they were all about comfort in God’s word and encouragement for the day. In fact, the Bible has dozens of examples of people crying out to the Lord in their time of suffering. Job, David, Moses, Abraham, Jacob (he even wrestled with God, remember?), Paul, and my especially my Savior. Each one followed their pleas and prayers with submission that God’s will be done. They were honest in their plight, in their pain, and God comforted them.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not okay to shake your fist at God—but He certainly expects us to cry out to Him in our time of need. It’s clear from His word that He loves us—and what loving father would turn a deaf ear on their child’s suffering? Even if we don’t feel His presence due to our circumstances, He’s with us, every step of the way.

God desires intimacy with Him. If I’m not honest in how I feel, then I’ve built a blockade between Him and me. If I hide away my pain and put on the “happy shiny people” face, then I’m also not being honest with those around me. And that gets in the way of opportunities to love and comfort others.

Let me ask you this: who are you more likely to turn to when you are in need? A friend who puts on the happy shiny face and pretends life is all sunshine and rainbows even when they are falling apart, or the friend who has a close intimate relationship with God, and has learned to lean on Him during hard circumstances, sharing their joys as well as pains?

God’s Word says: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (emphasis added). For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Cor 1:3-7).

In the past few months, I’ve had people come alongside me to comfort me, and having been blessed by that, I  have been able to come alongside others and be a comfort to them. I haven’t had all the answers (not my job, thankfully), but I’ve been there. Oftentimes being there, praying or just listening, can make all the difference in a person’s day. Although this has been a very hard time, experiencing both sides has blessed me beyond measure.

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