Where is God when we suffer?
I believe the idea of God letting people suffer is a huge stumbling block for many people. (Not the purpose of this post, more on that later.)
A better question and one I have been thinking about for a while concerns specifically the three deaths in my family in such a short amount of time. So the question I have pondered and cried out is why ?
Where was God when Lilly Bear died at 13 weeks later as she brought such joy to our lives after Jamie went to heaven only one month before?
Where was God when Mike had a heart attack and died all alone in classroom, the last full day of school June 2013. He loved summer and was counting the days, why couldn’t he have enjoyed one more summer with us?
Surely, God could have had that truck driver go around Jamie , just like all the other cars did ? Surely, God could have not had Lillian die one month later, when we were still numb in our grief, surely God could have let Mike enjoy his summer which he so looked forward to?
Three thought processes:
When a tragedy occurs it is natural to question and try to make sense of what just happened. It is OK to ask why. God is Ok with that. So I’ve been pondering for some time what those thought process are. Why do some people move on from grief and loss and others are stuck.
Grief is hard and sad. But, folks there is not a person living that will not experience it. I heard Tim Keller on a podcast recently saying, “look around your dinner table, at some point everyone will be gone and one will be left.”
Here are three reasons why some folks get stuck in grief and others have the ability to move on.
1) The first one is people believe God created the universe, then left it up to man to run it. So all the physical laws take over. Jamie chose to be on I-65 that night, he ran out of gas and was stuck in the the southbound lanes of Interstate 65 near Old Hickory Boulevard, north of Nashville. People with this mindset believe that God can do nothing as He doesn’t interfere with man’s choices or situations.
2) The second thing people think is that “if we just had enough faith” or “prayed harder”, then Jamie would have woke up while in his coma. I mean if God can feed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and 2 fish; he can do miracles in our day and time.
We see miracles everyday and the scriptures teach Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We see God as the great deliverer and rescuer who if we just believe, pray with faith, He must hear our prayer and answer it according to our faith.
I mean, come on…we pray all the time for things that don’t come about. If our prayers are unanswered it doesn’t mean we stop praying and believing it just means God chose not to answer the way we wanted. It does not mean If your loved one died, it was a lack of faith or they would not have died. Really?
3) The final thing we can believe is that God is Sovereign. God being Sovereign means He choses when and where to act according to his will and good pleasure. God is ultimately and always in control. He gives life on earth and takes it away.
Psalms 139:16 says, Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
So yes God does know the day, He is omniscient…knows all, see’s all. Nothing we can do can change what God knows will happen.
The Bible says, “Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5)
Now on my journey, I believe God is Sovereign. He knows things we don’t know, He is in ultimate control. The book of Job, has become one of the most comforting books I have read since my loved one’s went before me to Heaven.
In that book, one of Job’s friends said, “come on Job, you know you did something to cause this, something must be wrong in your inner life to have caused these tragedies to come upon you. You seem like such a godly man in your public life yet something must be wrong in your private life.” (paraphrased)
I’ve made many friends in my Facebook grief groups of moms who have lost children to suicide, or drug overdoses, who blame themselves, IF only I had…called him that night, not moved, paid for yet another rehab and on and on. You name it I have heard the guilt and condemnation from their mouths many times.
But it is just not true.
We live each day making the best decisions we can about our lives and the lives of our children. As parents we are not perfect, but whatever we do is out of love.
Could we have really controlled the outcome?
When we lose someone we love, it is natural to question and re-evaluate our beliefs.
There was a time in my life when Mike and I were in ministry, we were young and we leaned toward number 2…the faith message. If we just prayed hard enough, with enough faith,faith as a mustard seed, we could speak and God would move.
Thank goodness all this didn’t occur when I was embracing this belief, I guess I would be in the grave myself by thinking, “I didn’t pray hard enough”.
If I held to number 1 I would be filled with judgement and mad at my dead son for being out at 3:00 AM in the morning. For the doctors who smothered him with the apnea test. And on and on, living a defeated life the remainder of my days.
But by trusting in God and knowing that the days of my life (our lives) are known even BEFORE there is even one, I can rest in His timing and His sovereignty.
Our life, (my children and I) have been forever changed, we will never be the same as we live on planet earth. We are sad and we miss them horribly, but we know that just like Jamie, Lilly and Mike finished their race, so we too will finish our race here on earth. And at God’s appointed time for us, we will join them and never be apart again.
Until a person experiences suffering, he cannot know what it means to hope. Martin Luther.
1 My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
3 His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
4 When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
In Him, my righteousness, alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Edward Mot 1834