“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

C.S. Lewis

As an adoptive family, many times throughout our journey I have been asked “Why did we decide to adopt?” Well-meaning but puzzled acquaintances struggled to understand why we would willingly complicate our lives. I have learned that often the best choices are not easy ones. And most worthy causes require a fight. That fight for us looks like choosing peace in the midst of chaos, gratitude instead of complaining, and chasing laughter even if it comes through tears. Stepping into messy, hard places was not the consideration, obedience was.

A dear friend and pastor, described his family’s adoption journey and perspective shift with their child. Initially the focus was on how to fix him. Over the years they began to understand that God didn’t bring them to fix their child but He brought their child so that He could access deep places within their hearts that otherwise would have remained off limits. Wholeheartedness. In our own journey we have had a similar experience in that the majority of change seems to be in us, as parents. God uses both great joy and great suffering to bring change in our lives. As much as we do not desire it for ourselves or others, there is transformative power in pain.

C.S. Lewis penned these famous lines, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God’s character is revealed in our suffering and in our pain we experience His power most intimately.

How do I respond to challenges in my own life? The good, bad, and unexpected? I have experienced some of my proudest highs and rawest lows within a day’s time. And I know I am not enough. But those words don’t come from a place of failure or defeat but from a place of resting in Christ. On the other side of all that I am not is the beautiful promise of all that Christ is. The declaration rings out, “My grace is sufficient for You, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” We are loved with an everlasting love. We are redeemed from death unto life. Because of that we are free to live authentically. To me that means we don’t hide hard, we don’t deny hard, but we also don’t give it the final say. There is such peace knowing that on my worst day I am loved no less and on my best day I am loved no greater. This is hope that does not disappoint because God holds every detail in His Hands. This is hope the world so desperately needs. We put ourselves out there because we know that the momentary suffering is nothing compared to the righteousness, hope, and peace that is being produced. We know the risk is worth it.

The world is doing everything it can to avoid pain, but as Christians we willingly embrace suffering. Lauralee Farrer, storyteller and filmmaker writes, “The world has turned its back on hope because the church has turned its back on suffering.” When we fail to live authentically the world loses. We all lose. What must we confront in order to embrace suffering in a way that leads us to transformed lives and expanded hearts, giving voice to the voiceless and bringing freedom to the captives?

If we build lives to avoid pain that is no different than the world. That is normal. But when we step out of our comfort zone, risk, and make ourselves vulnerable that is different. We embrace suffering and endure pain well, and by “well” I don’t mean perfectly, correctly, or even appropriately. Enduring pain by leaning fully on God to provide comfort, strength, and peace in the very midst of the storm- this is something different entirely. This is countercultural and where our greatest Hope can be found.

We are called to stand in the gap. To stand in the tension between knowing a better future awaits and living in the reality that it is not yet here. Because of sin, this world is broken. We are strangers. This world is not our home. We long for the hurt, suffering, and pain to be eradicated and wrong made right. Until then we have a choice. When we experience pain and heartbreak, we can either bring our hearts to God, allowing Him to heal in a way that actually makes our hearts expand and grow bigger or we can build walls of self protection that close us off and keep others out. How we respond matters.

Ms. Farrer contends, “When people are standing in the ashes of their lives, they require something powerful enough to bear the weight of their suffering.” This is our opportunity to shine. This is our chance to engage and not detach, to reach out and not run away. We have the truth, the Gospel Truth. The Love of God is greater. Period.

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 AMP