“Here’s a 35-year-old woman who has dedicated her life to God. Is this her reward? God, where were You when this happened? And if You could have prevented it, why didn’t You?”
Last week a very dear servant of the Lord passed away after weeks of surgeries, procedures and unfortunate events. Her name was Valerie. She was thirty-five years old. She was the wife of my nephew, Chris. Thousands of people were praying for her recovery day and night. I have not witnessed as much prayer for one person in a long, long time. But she did not recover. God did not pull her through. On Saturday, March 12 she was laid to rest.
The question that flood, of course, is “Why God?” This all seems so senseless. Where’s the fairness and justice in this tragedy? Maybe in a little bit of cynicism some of us might ask the kind of question posed at the beginning of this post.
And if you’re Chris, her husband, how do you begin to make sense out of this tragedy. The next morning and every morning since and every morning for the rest of his life Chris will wake up and Valerie will not be by his side. He will never again be able to hold Valerie in his arms. He lost his wife and lover and friend and partner in ministry.
These things surface in us a lot of raw emotions. Because they cause us to ponder some of life’s most difficult and profound questions. I would like to just take a few blog entries and spend a little time dealing with some of the most fundamental questions we face as human beings. These questions have been around since the beginning of time but they’re just as current as today’s news. Time magazine even carried a feature story with the title, “When God hides His face.” The subtitle asks the question, “Can faith survive when hope has died?”
Maybe that’s your question. Maybe you’ve dealt with a set of circumstances that lead you to a lot of questions and ultimately to some frustrations. And maybe like the Psalmist in Psalm 44 you’d like to ask God some questions. Like, “God why are You sleeping? Get up. Don’t reject us forever. Why do You hide from us? Have you forgotten our pain and troubles?”
Maybe your frustration has led you to a place like that. I want to tell you right up front. We as Christians also have questions. There are things that we don’t always understand. We don’t always know what God is up to. We suffer and have problems as well. Being a Christian doesn’t insulate you or isolate you from life’s problems. I think it’s important that we drag them out, put them on the table and be honest about that from the very start.
The great news is if you are reading these posts just checking out Christianity you’ll get a great opportunity to see Christianity in action. Perhaps the greatest evidence of our faith is watching how some Christians walk through unbelievable hurtful situations and tragedies and come out on the other side not resentful, not bitter. But with a peace and with a trust in God and with their faith in tact. I don’t want to gloss over the very real and agonizing pain that even Christians endure when life falls apart.
In these posts, I want us to be honest and take a real look at Christianity in the trenches. I don’t want to airbrush our faith or only show you pictures that are pleasant. That’s not life. Life is not always clean or rational or pleasant. Many people’s biographies do not end with the words, “They lived happily ever after.”
Have you ever listened to somebody’s story, somebody who went through a crisis and they had the miracle? They got the big answer to the prayer they were needing. While you rejoice with them, there’s a sinking feeling in your own gut as you quietly wonder, “What about me? How come God isn’t answering my prayer? Am I doing something wrong? Do I not have enough faith? Am I not praying the right words? Is God mad at me?”
And then, how do you respond when you pray and you pray and you pray and your mate isn’t healed? Or how do you respond when your mate leaves you and abandons you and you pray for reconciliation but they just end up remarried. How do you cope when life doesn’t end up like you hoped and prayed?
This is not just a discussion for those facing the life threatening issues of cancer or the loss of a spouse or even a lost marriage. It could be a financial circumstance that you’re up against. It could be feeling stuck in a relationship that’s going nowhere. It could be getting passed over for that promotion again. It could be any situation where life doesn’t make sense and you can’t understand what God is doing. You are trying your best to do the right and good things but bad things are still happening.
At the heart of this discussion there are just two simple things I’d like to be able to communicate to you.
- First, to draw an accurate portrait of who God is and how He works.
- And secondly offer some practical help for when our faith is challenged by life’s difficulties.
It’s likely over the next few posts some of us will have our ideas of God challenged. But I want to encourage you to just hear me out. To digest it and then to take the Bible yourself and see if what is said is true. I’m convinced that if God in the flesh were with us right now there are at least two things He would say to us on this topic.
Before we move into those I need for you to spend some time in deep thought and prayer. Are you ready for this discussion? Are you ready to hear what God has to say? Is there someone else you need to invite to engage and listen as well? Give them an invitation to join us. I will be back in a day or so with the first of the two things I think God would say to us if He were with us in person today.