“I prayed really hard,” she said, “‘Please, God, could just one thing go right for me?’ And one hour later I got a horrid case of the flu!” At the precipice of bitterness, she had legitimate questions. She cried out to God. And she got what seemed to be a divine prank!

Suffering touches all of us. But when someone else is in it—when we’re on the outside looking in—we have several options: We can avoid the situation and metaphorically avert our gaze. (This denies the human condition.) We can offer empty words of advice, or worse yet, criticism. (This naively believes that all things make sense in this life. We might feel better. But they won’t.) We can climb into their pain and walk alongside them. (This may make us a target for the person’s pain. But it’s the loving thing to do.)

The apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans was written to a people oppressed by a tyrant. It was an oppression Paul knew intimately. So he quoted the psalmist: “For Your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep” (Romans 8:36; Psalm 44:22—this psalm was penned during a time of national defeat for Israel). But Paul went on: “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:37). His viewpoint culminates in some of the most triumphant language ever written. “Neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38).

Are you or someone you love going through a dark season? “Weeping may last through the night,” sang the psalmist David, “but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). We can trust the loving hand of the One who knows our deepest pain.

 NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 28:16-20