How God Relates to You in Your Suffering

When I was a kid, I had many distorted perspectives about how God related to humans in a broken world. I remember thinking about God quite a bit at night as a kid. I used to think of God as a punisher of wrongdoing. God was someone that I was scared of. I remember clearly thinking that God was going to punish me every single time I did something wrong. I was terrified that He would do something to make me pay for my imperfections.

Many of us have false views about God and how He relates to us in our brokenness.

I have been thinking a lot about how God relates to us in our brokenness and suffering over the last six years. These have been some of the most painful, heartbreaking, and trying times in my life as I have watched my wife face one serious medical crisis and diagnosis after another. And the weight of living in that reality for so long has, at many points, had a crushing affect on our spirits—sadness, deep discouragement, fear, anxiety, depression, and loss. In the midst of all of this, God has shown up so clearly in my life in ways I have never experienced, and continually gave us hope.

How does God relate to us in our brokenness? 

How does God relate to us in our pain and suffering? 

How does God relate to us when we are struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition? 

Here is the truth about how God relates to us when we are in the midst of suffering. 

NEARNESS.

God is near to you and I when we are broken, hurting, struggling, and suffering. He is not a God who runs and hides from us in our brokenness. He is not a God who stays away because He is uncomfortable with our messiness and humanness during suffering. He is a God who draws near to us in our hardest days, months, and years. Psalm 34:8 declares this truth about God saying, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” I am so grateful that God has always been near—even when I did not realize it—as I have faced suffering and brokenness in my life. 

COMPASSION.

God is merciful and compassionate towards you and I when we are broken, hurting, struggling, and suffering. He not only feels the emotion of compassion toward us, He can also relate to us in our brokenness. What do you mean? Jesus, God’s Son, left heaven and came to this earth. On earth, He experienced brokenness and suffering. He was rejected, falsely accused, sentenced to death, and died upon a Roman cross. He understands our pain, rejection, and suffering because He suffered to a greater degree than any person in human history. He is compassionate, and understanding. He deeply cares for us and relates to us in our suffering.  

LOVE.

God loves you and I when we are broken, hurting, struggling, and suffering. He is not mad at us. He is not venting His anger toward us. He is not removed and emotionally cold. He is Love. He loves broken people. In fact, the book of Romans tells us that when we were at our worst God’s love was displayed toward us at it’s best—Jesus died to forgive us, heal us, and draw us back into a relationship with God for the rest of our lives and eternity. He loves you! When you feel discouraged, He loves you. When your suffering is messy, He loves you. 

GRACE.

God’s grace is available to you and I when we are broken, hurting, struggling, and suffering. He is the God of grace. He lavishes favor upon us even when we do not deserve it. When it comes to suffering, God’s grace is so valuable. His grace sustains us and strengthens us in our weakness. When Paul was facing major health challenges and struggling with this reality, God spoke to Him saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) When we feel weak, beat down, and weary in our suffering, God’s grace meets us—lifting us up and strengthening us so that we can keep going. 

ENCOURAGEMENT.

God encourages our hearts when we are broken, hurting, struggling, and suffering. Countless times over the last five years, when I felt weary and weak, God encouraged my heart in deep and profound ways. This helped me to keep moving forward, to keep purpose in my pain, and to see hope on the horizon. In relationship to suffering, God is described in these terms: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3) The term comfort can also be translated encouragement. God is the God of all encouragement. He lifts up our spirts when we are down. He sets wind to our sails when we are too weak to move forward. 

PEACE.

God’s peace is available to you and I when we are broken, hurting, struggling, and suffering. When the storms of suffering are raging around us, God extends His peace to us. This peace is not predicated on circumstances. This peace is beyond human understanding. This is the peace of His presence calming our soul when life is hard and painful. This is the peace we need so desperately: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

God has wiped away the distorted views I had of Him as a child. I am so grateful for knowing Him as He truly is. I am so grateful that He is the God that we can run to in our pain, and that He is a refuge in our time of need. This is the God that you and I can draw near to as we walk through the painful and broken seasons in our lives.

Wesley Towne