Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Eternal Question

I wish it was as simple as "Are we there yet?"

But it's not.

Why does a loving God allow such crappy stuff to happen to his people?  To people in general?  To his world?

I wish I had a simple answer.

Well, I suppose I do.  Simple in words.  Not so much in practice.


I've been a Christian for three decades.

I still struggle with this one.

The questions are haunting*:
Why is my best friend pregnant when I'm not?
Why did I have to watch my brother be stupid, and get his girlfriend pregnant, and embark on a marriage doomed to fail?  We did everything "right."  What's wrong with me? 
Why did I lose my father-in-law before we had children?  I wasn't ready to lose him.  I wanted him to see our children.
Why did my husband's career fall apart the way it did? Why were we the only ones who suffered when that happened?
Why is my best friend pregnant again?  I'm still not.  Why can't I give my husband a child?
Why did I have to lose all of my grandparents before the end of my junior year of high school?  They won't see me graduate.  They won't see me get married.
What did I do so wrong?  My heart is bleeding profusely over the loss of a friendship I thought I'd have till the day I died.  Now my friend has taken everything known about the kind of friend I am and turned it against me.  I can't even try to repair the damage now.  What is so wrong with me? 
I'd really thought I'd at least be able to give my parents a grandchild, my husband a child, before my sister had her first baby.  There goes that thought.  Why? 
My friends just lived through devastating storms, and more are coming.  How much more can they bear?  I feel so helpless. 
Why does so much death seem to be haunting my friends?  Why did my friends' baby die when there was so much prayer offered up on his behalf?
Do my prayers make any difference? 
Why was our generosity of heart and home thrown back in our faces? 
Why do my arms still ache for a child of my own?  I have three wonderful kids that I'm raising, that I love more than life itself.  Am I such a terrible ingrate?
How are we supposed to survive on my part-time income?  We have three kids and a passel of cats to support.  How long will we survive on what little money we have?  How long will it be before my husband can find the right job and can be working again? 
When you sit and think about all the things that can, will, and do go wrong in life, it's hard to understand why there's a loving God behind all this, letting it happen, and not shielding his people, especially.  And why he doesn't just step in and make it all go away.

I've come to three (relatively) basic conclusions about this question.  No, I don't think they totally resolve it.  (Except for the third one, maybe.)  But it's enough to get me circling back to the truth I mentioned above: the matter of trust.

  1. We live in a world ravaged by sin.  Even if you don't believe in "sin" as a concept, there is no denying that there is evil in this world.  Sin was man's choice...that pesky free will thing.  For God to have created man for a relationship, as the Bible indicates, and to have not given man free will...God might as well have created robots.  But he didn't want robots.  He wanted a friendship, a relationship...which can't be had if there's no choice involved.  Free will had to be in the picture, and thus, the choice to sin.  To bring evil into the world.  Nasty things happen because we live in a world that's full of sin, that's populated with imperfect people.
  2. God has promised that, someday, he will kick sin (and thus evil) to the curb.  Permanently.  But for reasons he has not chosen to reveal to us, that time hasn't happened yet.  When it does, we'll know...but not beforehand.  In the meantime, we've been called to bring light into the darkness that permeates our world, a world where light constantly battles darkness for control.  However, it's only the ones who choose to surrender to God who have any hope of fighting the darkness with God's light.
  3. The most difficult thing of all to accept in this: we just don't know.  We don't understand.  We're not asked to know or to understand; we're just supposed to trust.  Trust what we know of the God we serve.  Trust what we've witnessed as his actions in our lives.  Trust that he sees further and more clearly than we ever will, and what we're seeing right now is like looking at the back of a piece of embroidery.  Someday, I think we'll know.  We'll understand.  But it probably won't be until God chooses to reveal the deeper whys and hows, and that probably won't be until we get to heaven.  (Yes, I'm keeping a list.)
I don't understand why God allows crap.  I know he can change it.  I know he can prevent it.  

I also know that he can work through it.

As I read not too long ago, the words of another blogger come back to mind: I will not say that God causes tragedy, but I will declare he is not thwarted by it.

I've seen God act through tragedy:
God used the severe pain of my own infertility, my own empty arms, and gave me three children who desperately needed a mommy.
I have to think that, at the very least, my heavenly Father smiled as he saw one of my girls exclaim, "Why did Poppa Clair have to die and go live with Jesus? I miss him!"  And I can only guess that God went and pulled Dad aside and said, "Man, you've gotta see this!"
The job that Hubby had which fell apart?  It was a calling, yes, but a vehicle to get us near, so that we could take on a higher calling: that of three little girls in need.  Losing the job also left Hubby available, gave him time to heal, and prepped him for the amazing job he has now.
I was given two wonderful couples who chose to be stand-in grandparents for me, long before my biological ones passed away, to be at school events that my out-of-state grandparents just couldn't be there for.  They were honored as my grandparents at my wedding.
I still have no answers for why that friendship fell apart so radically and drastically, but in the years since, I've grown from those events.
I watched my friends galvanize in the wake of disaster, pulling out of themselves things that surprised even them.  And I helped as I could, from far away.
My friends who lost their preemie son have a wonderful story to tell about his brief little life, and the world-wide impact those twenty-one days had.  That will be even cooler as the years pass.
I've watched as God inexplicably answered prayer, how he chose to honor in one way or another the prayers of his people as they gathered en masse to pray for a specific concern.
He is God.  He's not a magic 8-ball.  He's not a wishing well.  He's not a wished-upon falling star or a fairy godmother or anything else.  He's God.  The Creator of the universe.

He can pretty much do whatever the heck he wants.

What he wants?  Me.  A relationship with flawed, faulty, crabby, opinionated, overly-emotional, imperfect me.

This is a world filled with heartache and pain and problems and nastiness.

But I serve a God who is not thwarted by any of that.

He's proven he's worthy of the trust I've given him.

So, even though it's hard sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), I will trust.

Some things you learn only through rough-and-tumble experience, the School of Hard Knocks.  This is one of them.

Graduation day promises to be a rollicking good party, though.

*Yes, these are all true.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your honesty in sharing this. I don't know of any Christian that hasn't struggled with learning to trust. And I don't know of any other Christian that doesn't long for graduation day. Bless you!


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