It Could Be Worse,
But It's Still Hard

Manna for Melancholy Devotional
Just because it could be worse doesn't mean it isn't hard.
I think I told myself, "It could be worse," a couple dozen times the first few days after the fire. After all, I wasn't wrong. It really could have been so much worse. God's care was immediately evident to me, even as I scrambled the children out of the house and watched neighbors I've never met come from all directions to help.

But as I've sat with those words—"it could have been worse"— for more than a month now, I'm nearly resolved not to say them again. There's a sense in which the meaning renders: “Since it could have been worse, it's not all that bad, and therefore it won’t be so hard to get through.”

I don't think I've made it a habit of telling people who are suffering that "it could be worse." But if I have I repent, because if I've learned anything from this experience thus far, it's that the person being told "it could be worse" may inadvertently feel the shame of an unspoken addendum: "so it's not all that bad.”

Many people are going through “it could be worse” hardships. Maybe we’ve walked with Christ long enough to even recognize God’s mercy woven into the tapestry of the trials at hand. But if that’s where you find yourself today, sitting in the tension of “it could be worse” and “this is really hard,” I want to encourage you:

Just because it could be worse doesn't mean it isn't hard.

Just because it could be worse doesn’t mean it isn’t disorienting.

And just because it could be worse doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

When it comes to God’s compassion for hurting people, the severity of the trial makes no difference to the intensity of his attentiveness. Our cries matter to him, even if “it could be worse” (Ps. 34:17). Our broken hearts draw him near, even if “it could be worse” (Ps. 34:18). In all our afflictions—from the great to the small—God commits to us his care because in Christ he commits to us his love (Ps. 34:19, Rom. 8:35-39).

Sure, maybe it could be worse, but that doesn't mean the pain isn't real. And for that pain, there is a faithful Physician. And through his care, we experience healing and peace.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 147:3