Things like natural disasters and unexplained illnesses often cause us to question God’s goodness. Surely He, if He loved us, would not allow us to deal with such difficult and heart-wrenching things? I myself have asked this question from time to time, though I have never come up with a satisfactory answer. The truth is, nobody has, whatever their philosophical outlook or religious belief. There are always “whys” that remain.
My personal opinion is that many of the things we suffer through are the natural consequences of living in a world that doesn’t work properly. Sin effects everything. Paul writes of the world around us:
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. – Romans 8:19-22 (NKJV)
Praise be to God, for His eternal plan involves the redemption and restoration of the whole of creation. There is not one blade of grass, one flower, one mountain, one stream, one deer, one fish, one dog, one anything that will not be healed under His hand. Those of us who live under the Lordship of Christ will get to live in the “ideal world” that is always talked about. We will get to be whole and healthy, entirely at peace, our lives devoted to the worship and service of the King.
What do we do until then?
“In this world you will have trouble. . .I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.” – John 16:33, 14:16 (NKJV)
In our humanness, we’d rather escape trouble. We feel terribly alone and afraid when tornadoes rip through our homes or we are diagnosed with a disease that the doctors just can’t fix. We don’t understand. We’re angry. Hurt.
In those moments, there is amazing hope. Jesus guaranteed that we would go through hard times, for He does not snatch us immediately out of this life when we come to faith in Him. We have to exist in the same sin-sick world as everyone else does. But He is with us. Did you catch that? God is with us.
There is not a tear you cry, not a hurt you feel, not a question you ask but God does not see, hear and respond. He does not always work in the ways we would like Him to, or even in ways that we can understand, but He never leaves. Never.
The question is true: “When you feel far from God, who moved?”
Jesus went on to say:
“But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NKJV)
He is bigger, stronger and mightier than the fiercest of storms. It is beyond me as to why He allows them to come, but I stand in the truth that He guides us through them all, His arms wrapped protectively around us. Whatever is allowed has first passed through Him, and is meant for our good.
That is a hard truth to swallow. It takes a lot of faith and teeth-gritting guts to hold on. It takes effort, determination and a conscious decision to accept that some things are beyond us. To believe that God is other than we are and cannot be controlled. To know that we are fiercely loved, despite outside evidence to the contrary.
I do look forward to the day when I can see God face-to-face and ask Him why my husband had to battle depression daily and why I had to live with a mysterious illness. Why I was born partially blind. Was it an integral part of the plan? Was it something that He allowed as part of living in a fallen world? I would like to know, though I suspect it has something to do with the lessons He has to teach to His children over and over again; lessons about humility and dependence. Until that day, however, I am content to live in this broken body, secure in the knowledge that the Lord is with me, and this is not all there is.
What do you do when you suffer?
You cry. You get angry. You ask questions.
God hears. He sees. He loves. He guides.
What do you do when you see someone else suffering?
You don’t mouth platitudes. You accept that person for who they are and where they are. You pitch in where you can. You hug them and listen.
God hears. He sees. He loves. He guides.
We are never alone.