Why Is There Pain? – Todd Stocker.com

grief given to help othersComing up on seven years ago, I lost my precious Makenzie.  Suddenly taken, I was suddenly shaken; set adrift in an ocean that I didn’t want to sail.  It took me several years to find emotional land again and when I did, I had to deal with the ‘Why’ question with which most of us struggle. 

“Why did this have to happen?”

Sometimes you wonder why hurt tragedy and loss arrive on your doorstep.  Like a packaged delivered by an unknown enemy, you are forced to take it in, open it, and deal with the contents of its abuses.  Even after the ache of the offenses, you are left wondering why it was necessary?

There is an answer.  I experienced that answer moments ago as I sat around a table with a family whose 22 year-old daughter was taken from them by a distracted driver only 6 weeks past.  They shared their hurt with me and I nodded.  They talked about their girl who was friendly and strong and someone with whom you’d want to love and I smiled.  They talked about the new normal in which they were being forced to live and I understood because I’d been there, in that boat, navigating the seas on which this beautiful family now sailed.   

And that’s the answer.

Tragedy, pain, loss, hurt.  All are experienced  and comforted by Jesus so that we could help others navigate a similar experience.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:4

You are not alone in your grief.  That which you are fighting has been fought by others.  That which you suffer has been suffered by many.  There are those in your church, family and community that are given to you by the Master to help.

Ask around.  Trust in God.  I’ll bet you’re staring your comforter right in the face.


first name signature transparent small


Pain In The Night; Joy In The Morning – Todd Stocker.com

painjoyYou’ve had those nights.  The ones through which rest eludes you and worry torments you.  Your spouse — if married — sleeps soundly next to you but you listen to the nothingness that fills your dark room.

You are in pain. 

If it were only physical pain, you could take the pill, sip the nectar or rub the cream.  But this is worse.  It is the pain of a relational crumble that has you sleepless.  It is the grief of another loss that has you turning.  It is the fear of failure that won’t let you alone.

That’s pain in the night. 

What I love about those nights is the reminder that God’s promises joy in the morning.  Even if you aren’t a spiritual person or you believe this whole ‘God-thing’ is for fools, he gives all of us this gift of joy in the morning.  A renewal.  A beginning again.  A sense that it’s going to be okay if you just manage to get one foot on the floor. 

Sometimes it takes a few mornings for joy to catch up, but wait long enough and God can help ease the struggle. 

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5


first name signature transparent small

How to Help Those Who Experience Loss

loss_grief_help.001“What do I say?”

You may have been there.  Someone close to you loses a loved one and you find yourself in that situation of wanting to help but not knowing how.

Recently, someone in the ToddStocker.com community asked me what to do when his cousin died at a young age and was wanting to console her parents.   Given that I’ve been on the other side of it [read here], I offered this simple advice.


I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your cousin.  There are lots of emotions and questions when someone like my daughter/your cousin dies at a young age.

First, the biggest help is to be present, whatever that looks like in your context.  Physical presence is best but just letting the family know you are there speaks volumes.  There is an old Jewish tradition called “Sitting Shiva.”  Basically, you simply be there and sometimes use words.

Second — if you are going to say anything — speak real encouragements.  Avoid the cliche’s like “she’s in a better place” or “God must’ve wanted another angel.”  Gag!  Not helpful at all.  Simply, “I love you guys,”  or “How can I help?” are perfect.  During grief, it’s best to just listen and acknowledge their pain [tweet this].

Third, I don’t know how close you were to your cousin but asking the family questions about her life is super helpful.  We love to talk about our loved ones even if it means landing in puddles of tears.  The recalling of her life is part of the celebration of it and it is actually healing for the family.

Fourth, resources.   Many people have mentioned how my books have helped.  “Dancing with God” and “Refined: Turning Pain into Purpose” are the two that came from Makenzie’s home-going.  Henry Nouwen’s “Turn My Mourning into Dancing” is wonderful as it points to the rock solid presence of God in tough times.

Hope this helps.



[To have these posts delivered to your email, click here}



 There is a phrase that I don’t toss around anymore.  That phrase is

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Why don’t I juggle these words?  Because, frankly, they aren’t true.  Nowhere in the Bible does it appear.  Nowhere in the archives of theological history does it find voice.  Nowhere in my experience does it have stance.  God DOES give or allow more than I can handle.

Ask any mother who experiences a miscarriage.  Ask any dad who looses his career after 20 years with the company.  Ask any student who faces their first romantic breakup.  Life seems over – it seems unbearable – it seems too much to handle.

What God does say is that in those times of life explosion, He will be there with you.  When the weight of tragedy crushes down, He promises to hold you up.  He can and will give you peace even when you can’t handle the pressure.

Believe me, I know.  Having experienced every parent’s worst nightmare, I know.

Blogger Aaron Armstrong has a great post on this.  Click Here to read it.

How has God helped you when you couldn’t handle life’s struggles?