I recently said goodbye to my best friend. Her death was a huge shock and left my heart feeling a bit numb. I think one of the main reason people turn to atheism is because of suffering and pain. And this is why there are Christians, sitting in the church pews, who eventually walk away from God. Here is the pressing question; “If there really is a God, why would He allow so much pain and suffering in our world?” When we face times where the bottom drops out of our lives, this question can threaten to derail our faith. Because if God is truly sovereign, He must not be loving, right? After all, how could a sovereign, loving God allow these terrible things to happen in our world?
I certainly have also asked many questions along these same lines over the years. I’ve watched my own children suffer intensely. We buried our firstborn son six years ago. I’ve wept and prayed with countless others who have faced huge losses and unspeakable circumstances. Life is hard. At times, life just simply hurts.
I cried as I said goodbye to my dear friend of 26 years. I wept as the dirt was covering her casket, knowing I’d never see her sweet face in this life again. I’ve continued to cry as the reality of this shock sets in. I know the hole that was left in my heart; I can’t imagine the gaping hole her husband, boys, and other family are experiencing. Pain and loss can be excruciating!
Suffering will visit each of us. In some way…at some point. We need to prepare for it. The Christian life will be difficult at times. But when we see suffering, it can also remind us not to take life for granted. At my friend’s memorial service, many were talking about the wonderful legacy she left for her family, and how they don’t want to take their family members for granted.
My friend, God hates bad things more than we do. He hates to see us experiencing pain and loss of any kind, and He will someday destroy it all. But you see, God isn’t an insurance policy. We don’t have a contract that if we pay Him our respect and obedience, He will protect us from harm.
In our humanness, pride, and vulnerability, we want to understand and predict God. But we can’t. He is God. We can’t control Him, or completely understand Him. Are you okay with that? If not, you’re likely struggling with the same sin condition that caused Satan to be thrown out of heaven. Pride. Wanting to be like God, and to think like He does. To understand Him.
I talked to a young lady who’s understandably struggling with the concept of God being a loving Father. She had an abusive father growing up, so she struggled with seeing the loving relationship my husband has with our daughters. She had a dad who sadly distorted her view of God. But God’s character does not change based on our perception of Him.
Our view of God isn’t His fault. In fact, a lot of the problem is in our own perspectives. Let me explain…
How many of us had a warm bed to sleep in last night? A roof over our heads to protect us from the elements? What about heat or air conditioning in our house? And how many of us are blessed with a vehicle to drive? Did you have food to eat this week? Have you ever been able to enjoy one day of good health? Do you have running water or electricity in your house? Are you blessed with the gift of sight and/or hearing? Have been blessed with a good relationship or a family? Is your heart beating? These list of blessings could go on nearly forever.
My friend, you and I have been extremely blessed in MANY ways. But we simply don’t recognize it. And often, we don’t appreciate what we have, but expect more.
God is very good. He blesses us daily with multiple blessings. And we take it for granted. Then when difficulties come our way, we question His goodness. How fair is that? My friend, each of us have received many more blessings in our lives than we’ve received losses. God is incredibly loving and merciful. To each of us.
Let me take this a step further. We shouldn’t determine God’s goodness simply by the blessings He gives. (or withholds) Isn’t it enough that He is our Abba Father, Redeemer, our Peace in the midst of our storms, Friend, our Comforter when we grieve, our Creator, the Beginning and the End, our Shepherd and Provider? This list could also go on forever.
God’s goodness means He even mercifully offers another chance to those who’ve done evil things. That may be hard for some of us to grasp or even to accept. In our prison ministry, we’ve met some extremely hardened and evil individuals. Many of them are deep in Satan’s grasp. But we’ve also seen many receive the mercy and forgiveness of their Savior. God continues to extend grace, patience, and mercy. And He delays the final judgement as He continues to draw us unto Himself.
Much of the problem of pain and suffering is our perspective. We are all prone to focus on our losses instead of on our blessings. God isn’t unloving and unfair simply because we think He is.
My husband’s good relationship with our daughters isn’t wrong because someone else was sadly exposed to an evil, distorted view of love. It doesn’t change the fact of the godly and loving daddy my husband is to our daughters.
Many people facing deep suffering, turn to God rather than from Him. Our loving God gives amazing peace to His children in the midst of their losses. You may have followed our family for quite a while. After watching all the difficult events unfold in our lives, you may have questioned why a loving God would allow these things to happen to a family who’s serving Him. But think about it…Why should you lose your faith in God because of my suffering, while I’ve been drawn closer to Him because of it?
As Christians, we can take comfort in knowing our life here on earth is the closest to hell as we’ll ever have to experience. If our faith leaves us unprepared for suffering, then we have embraced an incorrect faith that deserves to be lost.
May you be carried by my loving Father and choose to praise Him. During your losses as well as your blessings. He truly deserves all glory and praise!
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)