Why does God allow pain and suffering??

Categories: All,Healing,Uncategorized,Walking through grief

Isn’t that a question we often ask our selves?  It is one I know I have thought and often asked myself.

Over 300 churches in Austin are participating in the Explore God campaign.  You can visit www.exploregod.com to find out more.  Anyway, we are asking some great question each week then the pastors of all the participating churches are unpacking the question.

So far we have addressed:

1. Does life have a purpose?

2.  Is there really a God?

3. Why does God allow pain and suffering?

So this past Sunday Chris Plekenpol the pastor of my church, Wells Branch Community Church asked me to share my pain resume as part of the message, “why does God allow pain and suffering?”

My Pain Resume

-Parents Divorced at age 10

-Future husband cancer at age 18

-Infertility for 8 years (25-33)

-Sister died at age 31

-Failed adoption at age 37

-Fight for adoption of Bethany at 38

-Planted WBCC at 38

-Husband died at 41

Although my pain resume reflects much pain and suffering I can still sit here and say, God is good, He is faithful, He is a God who has purpose in my pain.  Chris nailed in on the head when he said, “Suffering provides a platform for Gods glory to be displayed.”

When Todd passed away one of his dear friends who spoke at the funeral looked at me and said, “Cassi you will have a platform as a result of this.”  I had no idea what he was talking about.

SO fast forward 23 months later and I think I am beginning to understand what he was talking about.  God is using my story my “pain resume” as a platform for His glory to be displayed.  WHOA!   Speaking, writing and not to mention the day-to-day personal interactions and relationships have been a HUGE part of my platform and as I have shared my life and story.  I have heard from so many who have been touched and the cool thing is, it has helped my healing process also.  I am not wasting the pain… God has turned my pain into my passion.

As I was preparing to share this past Sunday and thought about all I have walked through I could look at back at each pain or struggle in my life and remember how the Lord had used that pain and suffering.

Some of which I was able to share last Sunday which you can listen to at this link:  http://wellsbranchchurch.com/sermon-audio/

(click on “Why does God allow pain and suffering?”)  

I did not have much time to share so I wanted to give a few more verses and nuggets of truth here.  I hope you will take time to listen as it was one of the best messages on pain and suffering I have heard.  Chris nailed it at the end so be sure and listen all the way through.

-Parents Divorced at age 10 

God called me to himself when I was 10 and I asked Jesus to come into my heart and life after my parents divorced, which was the BEST decision I would ever make!  (John 3:16)  Plus my family size grew which is more people to love and have family drama with, ha!!

-Future husband cancer at age 18

My dependence on Christ became stronger as I learned how to walk the hard road of cancer with Todd and learned  how to love someone who has an illness you cannot make better but can only pray and be there physically and emotionally for support. I know prayer is a HUGE part of healing and walking with God but remember I was only 18 and still growing my faith roots at this point, boy did this one test just what I put my faith in…  BIG TIME!!  Todd was only given a 35% chance to survive!!!

-Infertility for 8 years (25-33)

This one lasted the longest and definitely was one of the most challenging.  We had dated for 6 years then were married for a while and were working with kids as God has called us into student ministries.  Everyone in our lives were having children many even their second and third ones.  People stopped asking us about having kids.  We loved them and desperately wanted kids of our own BUT Gods timing was not our timing.  One BIG thing God taught me during that time was Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Our plan was to have children two years or so after we were married but as the Lord would purpose it, Jackson Todd came into the world 6 weeks shy of our 10 year wedding anniversary!! BUT he was totally worth the wait.  =)

-Sister died at age 31

Carla’s passing was the first time I had lost anyone really close to me and although I always felt that since she had a chronic illness and had spent most of her life sick she was not going to outlive me.  However the finality of her death and no more visits with her or phone calls to talk about our crazy family or just her HUGE love and support really rocked my world!  I found myself crying and crying and missing and missing her more than I thought I would.  After all she had really suffered in this life and now was in Heaven with a glorified body and was feeling no pain but my heart ached and longed to see and be with my sister again.  God gave us such a special and very close relationship one that was hard to get over.  I realized one day months after Carla’s passing that I was missing Gods peace.  While praying and crying out to God I looked in my Bible and found,
Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”  My heart was not focusing on God but on my pain and loss. Pain and suffering can sometimes skew our perspective of God and who He is.  I had to readjust my thinking and with time began to experience Gods peace again  This was a lesson I had learned from my previous pain and suffering… I just needed a gentle reminder.  

-Failed adoption at age 37

This was one of our worst fears come true, we had agreed to parent a baby that a young women in our church was placing for adoption.  The church had even had a big shower for us and our nursery was all ready, our hearts and home were ready to welcome our baby boy, Travis Isaiah.  Then a week before he was to be born the birth mother changed her mind.  Even though we had not laid eyes on him we had already made plans in our hearts and life for what our lives would be like with our new son and so it was like a death.   We had to grieve another loss. I remember sitting in BSF shortly after and the teaching leader saying, “Often times God uses difficult circumstances to accomplish His will but it is on the other side of that difficult circumstance we see the goodness and His glory.”  At the moment of hearing that I was not on the other side but I knew God was going to use it and boy did He!   6 months later we got a phone call on a Tuesday about a baby girl who had been born and needed a family to adopt her she was just waiting at the hospital so we left the next day, Wednesday and met her on Thursday and brought her home on a Friday! Talk about wild and crazy and God doing more than would had ever asked or imagined!!

-Fight for adoption of Bethany at 38

After the 6 month waiting period and one week before our final court date to make our daughter a Wortham forever I got a call from our attorney saying the birth father had surfaced.  So after another 4 and half months of me worrying but ultimately trusting God.  Todd and I placed our baby Bethany on the altar and like Abraham when he lay Isaac and trusted what God was asking Him to do we to trusted and asked God to provide a ram.  We believed in our heart that God had given us this miracle baby and it was not a mistake.  We also claimed James 1:2-4.

-Planted WBCC at 38

Church planting is a whole BIG scary leap of faith as you trust God when you feel that He has clearly called you to something so much bigger than yourself but at every turn you are facing some sort of opposition!  People think you are crazy as you are trying to be intentional in relationships but they feel like you are asking them to join your cult.  Especially in Austin where 85% of the people here are unchurched.  Todd was just a little too friendly for some folks.  God gave Todd the spiritual battle cry of “Live For More” than this world has to offer during the initial church planting stages and also, “In the community for the community” which was our way of loving on people and serving people in our community with the life changing reality of Jesus Christ.  The church still lives by both of these today.

-Husband died at 41

So as I have walked this road of widowhood a little over 2 years now and am rounding the corner to the other side of grief.  I can say that this by far has been my life’s greatest  pain and suffering.  It has trumped anything else I have walked through.  All the other pain and suffering I had the Lord of course but I also had Todd  (all but my parent’s divorce)  to walk through it with me as well.  His incredibly loving presence with his great BIG hugs, or when he would prayer with me, cry with me, make me laugh and so on!  Boy how I still miss all of that!!  There have been many verses and nuggets of truth I have learned from walking this road.  I will share a few and the others will most definitely be in my books, I promise.  There are just far too many to list here and besides that I know you are ready to listen to that message. 😉

Initially I could not help but think of  Proverbs 3:5&6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Here was the time in my life where the world was watching to see if I really believed what I shared in all those Bible studies and claimed to believe.  I did not understand God’s ways in Todd’s sudden death but I chose to TRUST nonetheless and chose also to NOT lean on my own understanding because it fails me every time!

I LOVE, LOVE Isaiah 41:10,

So do not fear, for I am with you;
 do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  And can I just say after you husband dies you are not sure you will breathe again let alone stand on your own two feet!

Isaiah 43:2-4

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.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you…

 As I said earlier this is only a sampling of a few favorite verses and if you are new to my blog I have shared many other verses that hit me or God used at specific times in my life in other posts.  I would love for you to take a read and experience a part of my story.   I had an amazing life with an amazing man but I have not always lived a charmed life and I do believe the BEST is yet to come.  What about you??

We all have a pain resume…. How will you use your pain resume as a platform to glorify God?

I don’t want to waste the pain so even though it’s not easy,  I choose to Live For More,

cassiSig2

 

 

 

 

Author: Cassi Wortham

I am a follower and lover of Jesus Christ, he saved me at the age of 10 but it wasn't until I was 22 that He completely captured my heart! I married my high school sweetheart, Todd Wortham in 1993 and enjoyed 18 years of an amazing marriage, love, two precious children and incredible ministry together!! God called Todd home on August 13, 2011 and this blog is part of my journey to get to the other side of grief. I pray you will find hope, love, joy and encouragement first and foremost in the arms of Jesus and that God will use this blog to help you truly LIVE FOR MORE!!

3 Responses to "Why does God allow pain and suffering??"

  1. Mati McGovern Posted on September 29, 2013 at 12:54 am

    So inspiring & encouraging dear friend! You are such a blessing & definitely a spiritual hero of mine!

  2. June Hayman Posted on September 30, 2013 at 3:02 am

    Cassi,

    Thanks for sharing your heart and your journey. I believe that your faith and your trust in God will bear much fruit.

  3. Susanna Arscott Posted on October 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you so much, Cassie, for your inspiration. God really is using your pain to display His glory. It gives me such encouragement about my own pain resume: that God will use it for His glory and I just need to TRUST His faithfulness and I will experience the peace of Jesus Christ if I will continue to seek Him!

    -Susanna

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