How Pain Strengthened My Relationship With God

The Pain I Endured Only Strengthened My Relationship With God

From a Catholic who struggled to find Him during troubling times.

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The past few months have been some of the toughest of my entire life. In November, I lost the most amazing grandfather that I could've ever been given. I was extremely close with him, and being away at college when he took his last breath broke me. Throughout my whole life, he was with me for every birthday, holiday and big event, and now I had to learn to live without him there to experience everything with me.

It seemed like the worst pain imaginable. I had one person to rely on through it all though, and that was my boyfriend. He helped me pray to God, and he was there while I cried myself to sleep at night. But two months after I lost my grandfather, my boyfriend and I split, too, and I felt completely alone.

Since then, I have spent a lot of nights questioning what all of this means and reaching out to the only one that could put my troubles to rest: God. At first, I questioned everything that He had put me through. I wondered why God would give people to me for only a short while before taking them away again. I started to doubt His timing and His plan for me, although I knew deep down that both were perfectly and thoughtfully made. There even came a point when I questioned where God was during all of this chaos, because through it all, I had lost sight of Him, and therefore myself, as well. I felt like He had abandoned me, too.

I was in so much pain, and nothing I was doing seemed to make it go away. I prayed every night, asking God where He was and why He had put me through so much heartbreak in such a short amount of time. All I could think about were the negatives of my situation. My perspective on my situation changed when I watched the movie "God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness."

Throughout this movie, many characters questioned God as I had been but in the end came to realize that He was putting them through changed in their lives to build something new. I started to look at my situation in a new light and recognize that He was not putting me through these challenges to harm me but to strengthen me. He is preparing me for what is yet to come, and I should never doubt His timing. When I felt most alone, God was right there with me, walking by my side.

When I started to question Him, I reminded myself over and over again that God says to us, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze," (Isaiah 43:2).

Trust me when I say, though, that in the middle of all the pain, it is hard to remember these words that God said to us, let alone believe in them. It's hard to see God and understand His plan for us when things don't seem to be going right. But I found it comforting to know that Jesus too, on the cross, cried out to God, saying, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalms 22:1).

Jesus understands our pain, and He knows how it feels to be helpless and vulnerable, desperate for God's mercy. God is always with us, with His arms outstretched, and if we keep reaching out to Him, we will always find Him again.

I now know that with Him next to me, I can get through any challenge that life throws my way. One of my favorite Bible verses comes from Romans 8:18, which says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." I know that the pain I am feeling now is part of God's plan for me, and there is a purpose behind all of it. His timing is perfect, and He has much more in store for me beyond the pain that I have felt in these last few months.

Although my relationship with God is nowhere near perfect, it is stronger now that I fully believe in His plan for me, and I am hopeful that it will only continue to grow in the future because I know that with Him by my side, I can get through anything.

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A Letter From God To Help You Finish The Semester

God sees your struggles and He's here to give you strength and motivation.
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My Child,

The lack of motivation towards the end of the semester is normal. You are mentally and physically tired, but you are almost at the end. Don’t stop walking down the perfect path I have for you. When you’re going along and you come upon a speedbump, I want you to go over it and keep driving. The paper you have to write and the test you have to study for are just small speedbumps I have given you to make you wiser. You can write that paper and you can gain motivation to study for that test. I am here to give you strength, and am here to open up your mind and give you motivation.

You are so loved. You have such a beautiful mind. The light of Jesus shines through your eyes and your smile brings comfort to the world. There’ll be times you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. There’ll be times you feel like the task I have given you is impossible to perform. But remember this: I would never put anything upon your shoulders that you cannot carry. If I put you in a certain situation, it’s because I know you are strong enough to go through it.

When you feel like crying, cry to me. When you feel like a failure, remember how much I love you. You are not a failure and you are not going to give up. I will hold your hand through every second of your life. I will seek your heart through your darkest moments. I see you, I see your heart, and I see your burdens. And remember that I have your heart which means I also have your burdens. Follow my footsteps and you will be free from the doubt. Remember Mark 4:40-41: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I have the power to calm any storm and wave. I have the power to calm YOUR storms and waves. Set your doubt, anger, and tiredness in my hands and simply be patient.

Romans 8:14-15 says,“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Nothing can separate you from my love. Not even your lack of motivation. You have no motivation because you do not feel good enough. You are more than good enough. You were perfectly made by me and when I look down at you, I think of how proud I am of your heart.

Throughout the last few weeks of this semester, you will stumble upon speedbumps. But hold the hand of my son Jesus and you will be able to go over that speedbump with ease. Go write that paper, go study for that test, and go get an A in that class. I know you can because I have given you power.

Love,

God

Cover Image Credit: Margaret Carnes

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A Note To My Dearest Son or Daughter, You Are Loved

An important letter to the people struggling; from a God who adores you.

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To my dearest son or daughter,

Please know you are so loved. I see your eyes reading this; feeling far away from my words. I see how it hurts you to feel this distance between us. But know I am here with you even in your valleys; even in your seasons of pain and struggle. I am here in the right now. I realize the days can drag on and the nights can feel so lonely and empty. But please know I am with you, and I am present in loving you. Even when you may not feel me. I pay careful attention to all of your hurt, and I recognize all of your pain. I hurt with you. I see it. It does not go unnoticed.

You do not go unnoticed.

As hard as this may be to understand, it is all a part of something so much bigger than I have planned for you. YOU are a part of something so much bigger than yourself. I know difficult times make it hard for you to see that, but I am right here. I never leave. You have to believe that. And I need you to trust me. Even in your darkest moments, wait for my voice. Listen, and I will guide you. Let your spirit rest and pay close attention to all the ways I speak to your heart.

Amidst all the chaos, I can be hard to hear. But if you'll take a minute to breathe and quietly listen, you'll start to hear from me again. Just simply seek me and you'll find me. That's it. I never leave. I'm here. My love is always with you. My attention is always on you. I spend every day thinking of you. Waiting for you. Do you not see it in all the little things I show you? All the small gestures that stand out among the rest? Those are from me. Those are gentle reminders that I'm currently listening to you and loving you.

You just have to trust me.

You have to trust me through it. I know that can be hard for you to do; I know our journey together has been a difficult one. I know at times it's been long and seemingly hopeless. But you haven't given up and neither have I. We are a team. We have to work together to continue towards the hope that lies ahead. The joy that lies ahead. The promises that I have for you. Because I chose you and created you to be something incredibly special in this world, and I need you to keep fighting. I chose you to be a warrior through all the pain and adversary. I chose you to be strong, courageous, and persistent.

And you are.

I made you that way.

And the future that I have planned for you is something bright and fruitful. It is full of happiness and hope. It is overflowing with love and fulfillment. And I picked you, especially for this future. I made sure it was everything that you so desperately needed and wanted; I made sure it would always be enough. Because I love you and care for you. Because I want nothing but the absolute best for you. Because I listen. Because I'm here. Because your struggles and pain do not go unnoticed, and they matter to me. You matter to me. Your existence matters to me. Because for a little while, child, you must understand hurt to appreciate joy.

Because your hurt will either shape you or break you. And you are given the freedom to decide which that will be. With me, you will be shaped. You will be loved. There will be a purpose for your pain. You will fully appreciate joy. You will grow strong. There is victory. But with this world, you will be broken. You will be deceived. You will be treated far less than you deserve. It will drag you to the finish line and leave you to suffer. There will be no prize. Your pain will yield no joy. Your false idea of happiness will be destructive and disappointing. Because I am the only one who can truly provide it. This world cannot.

Loving me through your hurt is the only way to assure an outcome I can always promise you: Healing. Happiness. Rest. Fulfillment. Purpose. Peace. Joy. And because you continue to seek me through your struggles, I know that you quietly yearn for these things. You want to fill the emptiness.

You want to feel my closeness. You desire my kind, nurturing the heart. But here is why you are reading this: so you can finally understand that I desire you just as much, but more. I long for your love. I deeply cherish you. Everything you want, I promise you will find with me. That's why you feel the urge to know me so well; because I complete the piece of you that is missing. It's a God-shaped hole that only I can fill. Because I designed it that way. Your heart was made in my likeness. That's the reason you've continued loving others as I call you to do REGARDLESS of your hurt; because that is my sole purpose for you.

That is why even through your brokenness, you see the world in a beautiful way. That is why I created you with such a significant heart and soul. To love others as I do. To share my promises. To spread my warmth. To seek goodness. That is a gift I purposefully instilled in you for one significant reason: because love is my most important feature, and I trusted you with it. Love is what binds us all together as one. Love is what fixes the things that are broken.

Love is what allowed me to give my son to your world; even when this world rejected him.

It's what allowed me to watch him suffer to save you. Because even when you are broken and hurting, love will fix you. My love will fix you. It's the only thing in this world able to heal your heart to the fullest extent and fill all your emptiness. Nothing else can do this but me. So, I know you are hurting, and I know life can be painful. Your struggles can be disheartening. But please don't lose me in the chaos. Don't give up. Stay close by my side and TRUST ME. Trust my process. Trust that the things you feel are preparing you for a unique purpose that I have planned specifically for you — a purpose that you who are reading this was carefully created for. A purpose only you can beautifully accomplish.

Trust that your trials will grow your strength and prove your loyalty to me; and that your loyalty will be rewarded. Trust that I love you beyond measure and that you are never alone. You call to me and I'm here. Seek me and you will find me. Talk and I will listen. You are loved beyond comprehension, my child. Always. And I treasure you. I long for your heart and devotion. You are cherished to the highest extent. So please never think differently. Because I could never begin to describe all the ways that I adore you. You were made with eternity in mind. I wanted you forever. And I still do. Even though, for a short time, you must hurt here.

And that is OK.

Because with me, you will always be OK.

You will always be taken care of. You will always have shelter. So you must trust me through it. I'm right here. This place is dark without me. I am the only light. You must follow it. Understand that you cannot measure your worldly struggles next to my love; because this world is broken and will never lack pain. There will always be trials. You will always hurt. But my love in comparison will win every single time. My love will beat it. And that will never change. Refuge in me means healing. It means triumph and peace. It means joy. Your sorrow will be cured through me. Please give me your pain. I will gladly take it. I will gladly carry it. Because I love you. Because I painted the skies for you and created the mountains for you to admire. I made this world beautiful for you to enjoy.

If I didn't love you so infinitely, I wouldn't have taken the time to design things specifically for your own appreciation and pleasure. I wanted to give you the delights of your heart. I created the things that you love and filled you with that want for them. I gave you your caring soul and strong mind. I gave you your courageous heart. I gave you worldly desires that provide you joy and satisfaction. I gave you wonderful people to adore. I gave you those things for you to enjoy. Because I love you. Because I care about you. Because I wish nothing more than for you to be happy. And I would never want this life full of disappointment and sorrow to ever trick you into believing that I am not right here beside you, loving you. Rooting for you. Helping you. Guiding your steps. That I do not have your best interest at heart. That I do not care for your existence. Because your existence was purposeful. It was planned.

You are special to me.

I wanted you; I've always wanted you. I knew your impact on this world way before you came into it. I saw your potential ages before I created you. I decided on your purpose. I designed your heart. You are such an important addition to the piece of hope that I bring to this world. Because your worth is in me. Your love is in me. And you will change lives because of me. I can't wait to watch you continue discovering the purpose I have for you. The purpose that is unique to your story, unique to your pain, and unique to your life. Because it's enormous. It's so extremely special. It will reach nations and shift boundaries. And I planned it. So please trust me. Never forget that when you feel alone, I'm here to love you. I'm here to comfort you. I'm here to heal you. You say the word, and your pain is mine. No more burdens. No more shame. No more guilt. I'm here to take it all. You just have to let me.

Because I need you, and you need me too.

Which is why I'll be waiting right here until you're ready.

God

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