by Rick Warren — March 17, 2023
From Where is God When It Hurts
“We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We . . . saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us.”
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (TLB)
Whenever you experience something painful in your life, you have a choice: You can run from God, or you can run to God.
Running from God never made sense to me. How are you going to get any comfort when you’re running from the greatest source of comfort? I’ve spent more time alone with God in the years since my youngest son died than in all the previous years. In the grief of that loss, what kept me going through all my painful days was worshipping God and being close to him.
If you’ll choose to run to God, you can use your pain to draw closer to him in worship. How do you do that? You don’t tell him what you think you ought to say. Instead, you tell him exactly how you feel. You argue with him and tell him that you don’t like the pain. This is called lament. The Bible is full of people crying out to God in lament, including one-third of the psalms.
Even complaining to God is an act of worship. You can worship in all the phases of grief. You can express your shock. You can unload your sorrow. You can share your struggle. You can surrender. You can ask God to use the pain for good in your life.
Paul does this in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. He says, “We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We . . . saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us” (TLB).
I’ve heard thousands of stories of people who came to know Jesus out of their pain, whose lives were totally transformed in the process of worshiping when they were in pain. And I can say to them, like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:9, “I am glad . . . not because it hurt you but because the pain turned you to God” (TLB).
When you’re in pain, it’s not a time to run away from God. It’s a chance for you to draw close to God, trust him more, worship him more, and—ultimately—know and love him more.