It’s a well-documented fact.
OK. Maybe that’s not true. I don’t have studies lined up here. But what I do have is a few decades of experience that tell me this is, in fact, the case.
Everyone needs at least one friend who can listen to them and respond with, “Life really sucks sometimes.”
This friend also, not-so-shockingly, will not follow up that statement with any number of platitudes about:
- God being in control.
- Anything related to Romans 8:28.
- That God won’t give you anything more than you can bear.
- There’s a lesson you can learn in all of this suckiness.
True, But Not Helpful
It isn’t that those things aren’t true. They just aren’t super helpful when life is in full-on suckiness mode.
And I’m not talking about the type of suckiness related to having a bad day full of minor inconveniences.
I’m talking about the type of gut-wrenching, heart-breaking situations each one of us encounters at one point or another in life. It’s the type of suckiness grief, anguish and despair fall into. It’s the stuff that makes breathing difficult and thinking straight almost impossible. It’s pain and sadness on the deepest level.
What we all need at that point is someone to sit with us, to listen, and to state the fact that life can indeed be difficult at times.
We Need Each Other
Because in those moments, we need someone to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Yes, He is near to the brokenhearted. But when you’re brokenhearted, sometimes He FEELS far away and distant.
Yes, He loves us and works all things for our good. But there are SO MANY SITUATIONS where that statement seems absolutely impossible to believe.
Yes, He will restore all things. But that means at some point He allowed those things to be taken. And that is a hard thing to swallow at times.
God is an amazing, huge, infinite God — and He certainly isn’t easy to understand, especially when you’re in pain.
When This Hit Home For Me
I remember years ago writing a paper for a philosophy class about suffering. I wrote about walking through the pain of my parents’ separation and divorce, and how often I cried out to God for answers.
And then one day — maybe even the day I was writing that paper, I can’t remember! — I had this lightbulb moment that the answers didn’t matter.
God could have spoken from the clouds to my 16-year-old self and told me all of the ways He would work redemption through the pain and hurt I was experiencing. He could have spelled out every single rational reason for why this pain was necessary.
But it wouldn’t have eased the pain. Because that wasn’t really what I wanted, even though I thought I did.
What I Really Needed
What I really wanted to know that God still loved me. I wanted — no, needed — to know that He cared that everything sucked and was terrible and I was crying myself to sleep every night and wishing I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.
That’s what I needed — desperately.
Because when you’re dealing with that type of pain and you believe God is sovereign, you’re stuck wondering how He could love you and allow this to happen.
One of the most precious discoveries from that very dark period of my life wasn’t the answers to why God allows it, but the realization that He was with me in each terrible moment, and that He loved me desperately and completely through all of it.
Be The Friend Who Lets Life Suck
That’s why we need friends who can tell us life sucks. Because they are the validation that God does see. He does care that we’re in pain. And He will walk through it with us.
They tell us that His love is real, whatever the circumstances around us may look like.
It’s hard to be that friend. Even when you’ve gone through your own suckiness, there is still something inside that wants to fix it and make it better for the people we love.
But we can’t. What they need is for us to live with them through the pain. To not ask them to “get over it” or “move on” or “trust God more.” They need us to let them not be OK.
I think part of the reason this is so difficult is because we’re all afraid when we see suffering — afraid that maybe God isn’t big enough. But we must remember how big He is.
Big enough to let Job go on for days and days about his pain and anguish without scolding or ridiculing Him.
And big enough that even when deep wounds take a long time to heal — or are not fully healed on this side of heaven– that He will restore what has been lost and there is hope for our friend even when life sucks.
Will you join me in being that type of friend? Our churches — our world — sorely needs it.