The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed. – Luke 4:18 (GNT)
We were reminded this past weekend through Pastor Dave’s sermon entitled, “I Can Only Imagine”, of Jesus’ mission statement above in the book of Luke. Incredible! Amazing! How true! And yet, we might also wonder within — if that’s true, then what about now? What about me? Does God see my pain? Can He set me free? Can He heal what’s broken?
When faced with pain and suffering, no matter the form or time of occurrence, we have a choice to make: will I trust God and draw close to Him or will I doubt Him and turn away?
When I was seven years old, my life changed forever. Events led to my parents losing trust in each other and my home was no longer a peaceful place, but one full of anger, fighting, and unrest. I never knew what the day would bring and I had few people to talk with about it. Though I knew God and that He loved me, I had often secretly prayed: “God, do you see me? … because I need you, my family needs you.” Months turned to years with all kinds of ups and downs, waves and storms, but I can honestly say that God was my hope and strength throughout them all. The gift of His Word (the Bible), prayer, amazing children’s ministry leaders at church, and key Christian believers in my life helped to anchor me in the truth that God not only saw me, but was at work in my life and in my family! I came to realize that there was a real enemy, Satan, at work trying to kill, steal and destroy my family and I, but Jesus came so that I could know and experience His abundant life! (John 10:10). More times than I can count, this truth led me to my knees in prayer, in tears during worship, and in deeper desperate dependence on the bread of life, which is Jesus (John 6:35). By the grace of God my parents stayed together, but it would take many years before I began to see greater peace in my home. However, the journey there had to be one of trust in God no matter the current circumstances.
When faced with pain and suffering, no matter the form or time of occurrence, we have a choice to make: will I trust God and draw close to Him or will I doubt Him and turn away? What we decide matters and affects what happens next. Does God see me and my pain? The answer is certainly yes (see Deuteronomy 31:6 and Matthew 28:20). Can God deliver, heal and restore? The answer is a resounding yes! (see Isaiah 53:4-6) We’re not alone in asking these questions. But more than simply removing the pain and bringing restoration, God is most concerned about the condition of our hearts and who we are becoming. He desires to not only comfort and deliver; He wants to walk intimately with us. He wants us to be spiritually strong, transforming us more and more into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ.