But What if God is Silent?
When a tragedy like ours happens, we may feel God abandoned us. We may feel completely alone and that God is far away. But the truth is, that we are never abandoned by God. God had a plan for His children the minute sin entered into the world. First, of course, He would send His only beloved Son into the world to save that which was lost through sin. That meant that Jesus would have to die on the cross for us. Which meant that He would then ascend back to Heaven to be with His Father once again. Jesus would indeed be at the right hand of the Father. So, were we “abandoned” once again? Absolutely not. In the Gospel of John in chapter 14, verses 16-18, Jesus told His disciples, “…I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, [Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener], that He may remain with you FOREVER. The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive… He lives WITH you CONSTANTLY. I will not leave you as orphans, [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you.” (Amplified Bible.) This is a promise to hold on to in the midst of great suffering.
Suffering is one of the fundamental reasons people begin to doubt their faith. I don’t think there is a satisfactory answer to the question, “Why is there suffering?” If you have already looked at some of the earlier posts for this website, you will have read about a time I got so angry at God for not healing our daughter of seizures that I threw my Bible across the room and told God that unless He healed Rhonda He’d better just leave me alone! I understand this type of anger directed at God. I was so sad during that time. I also learned a few things about myself and about God, my Father.
You see, we, God’s creation, His beloved children He fashioned after Himself, feel we have this right to challenge and question Almighty God. We feel justified telling our Maker that He’d better do this thing or that thing for us or forget it! I told God that I was never going to pray to Him again because He was going to do whatever He wanted to anyway. So why bother!
Then I remembered the story of Job. In anger he questioned God after he lost everything he had. God never answered the “Why?” question for Job. Instead, “The Lord answered Job out of the storm, and said, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me!” Job Chapter 38-41. For the next three chapters in the book of Job, God questions Job because he had, “opened his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words.” (35:16) Job’s friend who tries to comfort him tells Job, “How great God is – beyond our understanding.” (36:26) Basically he is saying that God’s ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than ours. That Job’s complaining and anger against Him are unjustified and because he (and us) cannot see or understand God’s big picture! “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
This I learned; God’s answer to suffering is to allow Him to enter into it with us. This can be a powerful thing for us to do. Instead of turning away in anger look and see what good can come from it. “For in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV) Bad things happen to good people. This was never God’s perfect plan for us! Allowing God to walk alongside us in our sufferings and trusting Him to work it out for our good shows us the great love of our Father because He so desires to be allowed to work in our lives and to let us know that no matter what, we are never alone. He never tells us to go work it out ourselves because we “blew it”! Most the time we may never figure it out. But God, can turn it around for good if we ask Him. We’ll learn valuable lessons through our sufferings and hopefully draw closer to God who loves us and truly wants the best for us.
In the midst of our darkest moments of despair and shock, “something” in me helped me hold on. My mindset was such that instead of getting angry at God and turning away; instead of deciding to give up on life and throw in the towel I knew Jesus was right there with me. Even though I cried out in great anguish, “No! No! No! This isn’t happening!”; the very next words were, “Oh my Jesus! Help us!” My very next step was to run to the safety and comfort of my Lord’s arms and I asked Him to hold me; to come into our suffering with us and turn our ashes to beauty!
This shift in a more positive way we deal with suffering takes time. It’s a journey.
I knew God didn’t cause this to happen! I knew God wasn’t out to “get us.” I knew God wasn’t angry at us and was going to teach us a lesson. I knew God wasn’t mean and vengeful. God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension. Therefore, I can say, “Even so, I trust You still. Even so, I love You still.”
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. (Isaiah 42:20)