I was out on my Street Pastors duty recently, when I had a conversation about which I'd like to hear your thoughts.
It was one of those five minute chats in which a huge subject came up and there wasn't the time or even an appropriate context for properly discussing the issue.
The issue boiled down to the old question of why God allows suffering. It wasn't framed as a question - more of a commentary on someone's own experience of life.
The conversation I had was with a young guy. He was very complimentary about what we were doing and I sensed was open to God - or at least to the idea of God. His difficulty was that he had experienced quite a lot of pain - he didn't go into detail.
In the few minutes I had with him, I said something like this:
"I don't know what caused your pain or why what happened to you did happen. I do know that Jesus loves you and that if you respond to His love, He is able to turn your pain into something that can be used to help others." (I felt that simply saying "Jesus can heal your pain" seemed almost dismissive of whatever he had experienced).
Someone else came and joined the conversation. He shook my hand and was gone.
Does Jesus turn our pain into something that can be used to help others? What do you think? What would you have said?