How are you?
I’m not asking how you want to be, how you think you should be, or how others assume you are.
In the depth of your heart, are you really okay? Underneath the formalities and the small talk, are you really fine?
What would you say if words were more than a formality–if you were to honestly answer the question?
I think a lot of us, the majority of us, are not okay, not fine, and not good. Whether the pain is so real it keeps us from getting out of bed in the mornings or it’s something we can push to the back of our minds and hide deep down in our souls, just about all of us have something breaking our hearts.
If that’s you, in any shape or form, today, I want to encourage you with this:
Your suffering matters to God, you matter to God. Jesus suffered for you.
Your Suffering Always Matters.
Every now and then, I find myself almost envying people’s pain: the death of a family member, a chronic illness, anything that’s obvious and understandable. Something significant, something legitimate.
I envy them because when I hurt, I can’t justify it by a diagnosis or a death. What’s mental or emotional can’t be explained by biology or logic. How can you reason through the pain that doesn’t make any sense, not even to yourself?
At least they know they have a right to cry.
And me? I have no right. How can I even think about my struggles when they’re facing things so much harder, so much more tangible and real? Who am I to complain when there are teens with debilitating chronic illnesses and kids with cancer?
But here’s the thing: God cares about our suffering, no matter what degree. We might hide it from others, but he knows what we’re going through. Even when we don’t know how to make sense of what’s going on in our minds and our hearts, he gets it. He knows our hearts, and he counts every one of our tears (Psalm 56:8).
God cares about our suffering, no matter what degree. Click To Tweet
He sees deeper than the surface. He understands exactly how much we’re hurting, and his heart hurts for us in our pain.
Your suffering is not an accident. It’s not overlooked by him.
You are not overlooked by him.
You Matter to God
Take it from Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who sat on the side of a street in Jericho. No matter how dirty, how poor, how little and unimportant you are, you will always have value in the eyes of God.
When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, the crowd tried to shut him up. Why would the Messiah care for a filthy man like him?
But in the eyes of Jesus, Bartimaeus had just as much worth as the chief of priests, just as much worth as the scribes and the pharisees, just as much worth as the Roman emperor.
Bartimaeus’ worth was not dictated by his role in society but by his identity as an image-bearer, as a creature created in the likeness of God. It didn’t matter whether his clothes were rags, it didn’t matter whether he had power or prestige among his people. It didn’t matter if he stumbled around and cried out in public, making a fool of himself. This man was valuable because he was intentionally designed for the purpose of bringing glory to his Creator. This man was capable of knowing and being known, loving and being loved by God.
The same is true for every human being on this earth. If you were made by God, your life has a purpose. If you were designed by him, you are his masterpiece. If you were crafted by him, you matter.
And, like Bartimaeus, if you cry out to God, he will hear you, he will love you, and he will heal you. None of us are completely healed–emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually–on this side of heaven, and not many of us receive a glimpse of total healing as astounding as a blind man receiving sight.
Even so, we have a stronger and greater hope. It is through the wounds of Christ that we have confidence in the day when we will be finally, completely healed.
Jesus Suffered Incomprehensibly for You
No human pain can begin to compare with what Jesus suffered on our behalf. No matter how bad this life may seem, we are still surrounded by the grace and kindness of God, by the multitude of blessings he’s instilled into this earth and into our lives. He gives us a host of earthly and spiritual blessings, besides the bare necessities of life.
But Jesus on the cross? He was completely alone. Yes, his followers mocked him and his friends deserted him, but that was just the beginning.
The hatred of all of humanity was nothing compared to the pain of being forsaken by the Father.
Jesus’ death on the cross was bloody and gruesome and horrifically excruciating in every physical, mental, and emotional sense, but that’s not the point. The incredible truth of the cross is that the righteous Son of God took the guilt and shame of every sin upon himself, bearing the very wrath of God. He bore our sins in his body on the cross, reconciling us to God. He didn’t reverse God’s jurisdiction on how sin should be punished, he endured the punishment himself.
Jesus, God the Son, suffered on a level none of us can begin to understand. Yes, your pain does matter. If he endured the wrath of God to secure your total, eternal healing, and to redeem you from the hold of sin, then he certainly loves you enough to see you hurting and be grieved by your suffering.
How God Sees Your Suffering
God doesn’t love to a certain degree based on the degree of suffering his people face. His covenant love is not based on our perceived need for it, nor can we earn it by enduring a certain level of pain. Even if nobody else sees our pain as significant or legitimate, he does. His suffering was incomparable, and so he does not compare between our individual experiences of human-level suffering.
In other words, God isn’t looking down from heaven with his arms crossed saying, “There goes Olivia, getting all upset over nothing again. Doesn’t she see all those other people? It’s not like she’s dealing with a matter of life and death or anything. What a drama queen.”
No, even if he has every right to do so, his patience and compassion tell a different story.
He understands all the details of what we’re going through, he gets the unexplainable, illogical anxiety we face. He knows exactly why particular struggles pierce us so sharply. And even if there isn’t a dramatic backstory to explain our present situations, he never hesitates to loves us in the midst of them, promising to carry us through to the other side if only we will hold on to him.
God doesn’t dismiss our suffering. He speaks truth in our lives to meet us where we are, he leads us to a deeper understanding of him through the suffering, and he shapes us more into his image, but he doesn’t ignore what we face here on earth. He meets us where we are, and pulls us along, carries us along, drags us if need be, to where he wants us to be.
So next time you find yourself struggling, don’t tell yourself no one cares. Don’t push it away as insignificant. Don’t belittle it because someone else is facing something worse.
Don’t pretend your heart isn’t hurting when it really is.
Take it to God. Turn your eyes upon him, trust him with your heart and your soul. Believe him when he says he really does care.
You will always be known and loved by him.