But while God may not prevent this pain, He had (and has) a plan for doing away with it. Our God is an all-powerful God, and that leads us to think that when bad things happen in our lives, He’s not there. Or that He’s choosing to ignore our suffering. After all, if He’s a God who loves us, why wouldn’t He want to protect us from pain? Isn’t that what a parent does?
But our God is not just all-powerful, He’s a God of justice. And justice needs to come before power as power without justice is corrupt. This is why He didn’t just sweep away all of our sins and this broken world to create a new one. He provided a just answer to the evil in the form of His son Jesus. Jesus paid the price for all of creation so that we didn’t have to. Because as a good parent, God also doesn’t prevent us from making our own choices. We can choose paths that will take us away from Him, that hurt us and hurt others, but forgiveness is there as soon as we seek it.
This is what Jesus shares in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). A man has two sons, and the younger one decides to demand his inheritance before his father has died. He takes the money and squanders it on all kinds of self-indulgent pleasures. When he’s completely broke, he realizes the mistake he has made. Starving and broken, he returns to his father’s house, hopeful that his father will take him on as a servant despite the insult he had offered through the demand of the inheritance. But when he was still a distance away, his father saw him coming. And instead of being angry with his child, the father is filled with love. He gives him the best robe, puts sandals on his feet, and tells the servants to kill the fattened calf so that they can celebrate.
This is the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. God’s always waiting for us to return to him in repentance and love. And though we face a world now that will break us down, God plans to make all things new. He’s going to give us an eternal home without pain or sorrow.
Imagine the worst day of your life. If you knew that after that day you would have nothing but the peace, joy, and celebration you desire, that life would be perfect, that you would be reunited with lost loves, how would you approach that bad day? Our lives are as short as that day, and when they come to an end God invites us to an eternity of love and peace with Him in heaven. Whatever your burdens are now, you can throw them off; because when this day ends and the celebrating begins, they won’t matter at all.