Holding On to God’s Love Through the Pain

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By Melissa McLaughlin

Love Through the Pain

Searing pain torched my back.

Longstanding back issues, combined with the strain of age and use, resulted in physical agony that brought me to a complete halt. Following therapy, medication, treatments, and all manner of medical interventions, I found myself on the surgeon’s schedule for back surgery. And it couldn’t come soon enough for me.

The day of surgery my husband drove me to the hospital, assisted me at the registration desk, and prayed for me in the surgery waiting area. Right on schedule, the nurse arrived to wheel me to surgery prep. My husband gave me one final kiss and “I love you,” before I was whisked away.

The surgery room was cold, austere, and sanitized. I felt small.

If you have ever experienced surgery or a medical procedure, when the surgery begins, you are left in the hands of strangers. Given their training and qualifications, we trust the medical staff, though we don’t know them.

Still, it is a strange thing to be left alone at this critical juncture.

The ones who do know us and love us cannot be seen, heard, or felt. We recall their love and hold their memories in our hearts, but the distance separates us. We are by ourselves.

Where is God When We Hurt?

Similarly, there are times in our lives when we feel separated from God. The One who knows us and loves us more than anyone else ever could.

Maybe due to painful circumstances, a season of suffering, or an unexpected loss. Whatever the reason, we find it difficult to sense God’s love for us.

We believe He loves us. We know He loves us. But it doesn’t feel like He loves us.

We believe He is with us. We know He is with us. But it doesn’t feel like He is with us.

When it Doesn’t Feel Like God Loves You

What do you do when it doesn’t feel like God loves you?

What do you do when you feel God is distant?

When we feel God doesn’t love us or we feel God is distant from us, we have one of two choices. We can move forward based on our feelings or we can move forward based on the truth of Scripture.

One thing I have learned is to walk by faith, not by feelings.

Faith Over Feelings

Feelings are important. God designed us to have feelings. They alert us when we are hurt, when something is wrong, or when something is wonderful.

But feelings can also deceive us.

God’s Word says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it” Jeremiah 17:9.

Feelings help us recognize the hurts we need to process. We can bring those worries and heartaches to the Lord. We then receive His wisdom and peace to work through them. In Scripture, we read, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7.

However, feelings should not dictate our worldview, determine our outlook, or set the direction for our path in life.

As Christians, God’s Word is our authority. The Bible frames our worldview and shapes our outlook. His Word alone guides the paths we take.

When we are hurting, where do we find God’s love in Scripture?

Holding On to God’s Love in Scripture

There are two Scriptures I cling to when I cannot feel God’s love or sense His presence.

The first is Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God has already shown His love to me. When my back was turned to Jesus, when my fist was raised to Him in opposition, Jesus was dying for me.

That’s how God loved me.

This love is far above and beyond all earthly circumstances. This is sacrificial love for all eternity. When I feel it and when I don’t. That is the truth about God’s love for me. And for you.

The second is Psalm 100:5 – The Lord is good. His mercy endures forever.

When I look at Jesus on the cross, I can say with all my heart, “The Lord is good.”

When I look at Jesus on the cross, I can also say, “His mercy endures forever.”

Remembering this verse, even in deep sorrow, I can honestly say, “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.”

These two Scripture verses can reset my mind and realign my perspective. Though it doesn’t change my earthly situation, by recalling, praying, and speaking these verses to myself, I am reminded of God’s love as the overarching narrative of my life, even when I cannot see His love in the present circumstances.

Holding On to God’s Love Through the Pain

Are you in a place where you cannot feel God’s love or sense His presence? Are you hurting?

I invite you to pause right now and say these two verses out loud to yourself. As you do, ask the Holy Spirit to help you think of Jesus. Think of His suffering for your sins. The betrayal, the mocking, the beatings, the spitting upon, the crown of thorns, the nails in His hands and feet. Think of Jesus dying for our sins so we could spend eternity in heaven with Him. Think of Jesus. And remember His love.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 100:5 – The Lord is good. His mercy endures forever.

Do you have a Scripture verse that helps you remember God’s love?

No matter what you may be feeling today, I pray you will see Jesus in Scripture and hold on to God’s love through the pain.

P.S. After a successful surgery, I awoke in the recovery room and felt a special peace when my husband joined me a short time later. His eyes radiated love and his gentle hand held mine.

Other posts you may enjoy:

When it Doesn’t Make Sense by Melissa McLaughlin

When Days are Cold, Jesus is Near by Melissa McLaughlin

Let Jesus Love You by Melissa McLaughlin

26 thoughts on “Holding On to God’s Love Through the Pain”

  1. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. I think this is from Psalm 119. Anyway, that came to mind as I read this. I pray for soundness in your body and soul.

    Reply
    • That is one of my favorite verses, Tom! Psalm 119:10-11 is part of my daily prayers- “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” May we hide God’s Word in our hearts, in ever increasing depths. Thank you, Tom!

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  2. ‭‭Oh Melissa, I’m thankful you came thru that surgery! You will be in my prayers for healing and recovery. May the Lord bless you!

    Isaiah 55:9 is one of my favorite verses of encouragement in the Lord:

    Isaiah‬ ‭55:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    Reply
    • Dear Bettie, you are an inspiration to me! Your faithful witness for Christ, despite your ongoing pain, is a bright light in the dark of suffering. Thank you for sharing your Scripture encouragement. May we trust His heart and character when we cannot trace His hand. I pray for continued healing and strength for you. God bless you with His love and gentle presence.

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  3. Oh yes, there are many times Jesus felt distant. often it is when we draw apart from God, unknowingly perhaps. All we have to do is to come before His face and throne and get near God again. When writing just now I felt God’s presence so strongly I bursted into tears, and Friday I felt Lord’s glory so strongly I had trouble writing my reply to my former foster mother. This morning I didn’t feel God’s presence as I usually do, but when I lifted my hands in worship that I love to do, and didn’t do at first for some reason. But when I indeed lifted my hands in worship, I couldn’t sing worship, only worship in tongues and soft prayers. I even sobbed loudly and one of the pastors I know really well, came and prayed and thanked God for what He has put down in my heart. my favorite is Romans 8:39, which talks how we can’t be separated from God’s love by anything.

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  4. I needed to read this message today. Thank you so much. I’m on the way to my pain doctor for another shot in my neck. I’m feeling better than I was a month ago and I thank God for that blessing. Praying for you and sending love and soft hugs. Have a blessed week! 🙂

    Reply
    • Dear Melissa, I’m so sorry to hear about the ongoing pain you are bearing. Grateful for even a little relief. I’m lifting you in prayer right now. May God guide the hands of doctors and nurses who administer the pain injection. May God grant you rest and restoration body, soul and spirit. Lord, bring healing and ease Melissa’s pain, in Jesus’ name. Amen
      Sending love and soft hugs back to you. Blessings to you and yours!

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  5. I pray the surgery helped. I loved this analogy because it can fill like we are alone and apart from God at times. When tragedy caused that in my life, I kept praying and going to church even when I didn’t want to. And like after your surgery, I felt the Lord’s loving touch once again in my life. Thank you for a beautiful message Melissa

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  6. I love this so much! I’m sorry you had such back pain, and I’m grateful you were able to have surgery for it. You are so right that God is so far beyond our feelings. As humans, we DO have feelings, but we cannot always trust those feelings. As you say, “Feelings can also deceive us.” God is there despite our feelings! He loves us despite it all. It’s such a comfort to know that even as our feelings might rise and fall like a roller coaster, God is always there. ALWAYS.

    Reply
    • Well said, Jessica! Our feelings do rise and fall like a rollercoaster. And for me, these highs and lows can be greatly affected by the amount of sleep I had the night before. Though our feelings are real, we cannot rely solely on our feelings. God alone, is steadfast and unchanging. Here is there. Always! God bless you, Jessica!

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  7. AMEN to this: “Feelings help us recognize the hurts we need to process.” Would that these wise words had been part of my understanding in years past! Perhaps I would have been in a better frame of mind and spirit to deal with my hurts more productively. A thought-provoking post, Melissa!

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  8. Melissa, this is so vulnerable and beautiful. We all relate to feeling as if God is distant and His love far away. This is when it’s hard to walk by faith. But when we focus on the Scriptures and especially on the ones you mention to mediate on, it’s a great practice to bring healing to our souls, body, and heart. His love is extravagant!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your compassionate and understanding heart, Karen. We do all feel this way sometimes. And the Scriptures give us a lifeline to hold when our eyes cannot see our Father’s love. His love is extravagant! That is the truth! He will carry us through, even when we can’t feel His everlasting arms holding us. He still is. Bless you!

      Reply

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