Just a few blocks from my home in urban California lies a cemetery in Fairhaven Memorial Park—home to grand monuments, mausoleums and tombstones.
But the tombstone that has the greatest impact for me is not the grandest, but the simplest—lying toward the back of the park and overshadowed by a large tree with a single statement about the person and significant dates: JESUS IS VICTOR. Whose name is it? Corrie ten Boom.
Corrie, whose Christian family sheltered Jews in Holland during the Nazi occupation, died in 1983 and was buried at Fairhaven. She endured tremendous pain and hurt during her life, but the outcome was victory through Christ.
We all have our deep hurts. You know what it is for you. Maybe it’s something out of your control, a past event you wish could be erased or an enduring hurt that follows you wherever you go. Whatever it may be, we often find ourselves saying, “If only…”
If only this one circumstance were different, if only that person weren’t in my life, if only that had not happened. We consider it a flaw in God’s plan because we cannot imagine why a loving God would put that deep hurt in our lives.
But Corrie’s sister Betsie, a victim of the Holocaust, was known to say, “There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world.”
Do you believe that to be true? Corrie and Betsie believed that the deepest hurts could lead to the most effective ministry. For example, if these sisters had not been forced to endure the horrid experience of the concentration camp, thousands of people would not have been led to Christ.
In the midst of our hurt, we are tempted to think that God doesn’t understand.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ asked the Father to remove the cup from Him. He was tempted to despair just like you. What was His deepest hurt? Carrying all of your sins and sorrows.
Separated from the Father, Christ was mocked, humiliated, tortured, crucified. He had endured being made in the likeness of men, endured hunger, thirst, discomfort, being treated as an outcast by the ones He loved, being denied the glory that was rightfully His. What if the Father granted Jesus’ request? Mankind would be lost in despair, condemned to eternal separation from our Father and Creator.
Do you think your deepest hurt happened by mistake? Do you think it was something that God overlooked? Christ died on the cross for you, but it was also for His own name’s sake, that He might receive the glory due His name. God has a plan.
Let God use your deepest hurt to change you, mold you, make you more like the Son. Maybe God’s will is for you to endure that deep hurt so you can be a blessing to others who share that same hurt. Maybe it even brought you to Christ.
God’s purposes in allowing pain in our lives are multifaceted. Not only does He teach us about His love and faithfulness amid our times of sorrow, but after our grieving has ended, He gives us strength to offer words of edification to others who are experiencing similar trials.
Through today’s trials, God is maturing you into the person He wants you to be tomorrow. As we focus on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter, remember that you share in His victory.