Four years ago, I stood alone in my apartment raging at the Lord, asking Him “why?” Why did He allow this? Did He not care about me? Why did I feel such incredible pain and rejection? Why did I feel all alone?
This morning, I stood in my room getting ready for work, struggling with the same question after receiving an email about friends in a heart-wrenching situation. “Why? Sometimes I just don’t understand.”
I was thankful to discover this morning that my questions didn’t come laced with bitterness and anger as they did four years ago. I think at one point I bought into the lie that God is a genie in a bottle that gives me good things and when he doesn’t, there’s something wrong with Him and He doesn’t care about me. I never, ever would have admitted that was what I thought. Man, reading that now, it reeks of pride and entitlement. God doesn’t owe me anything.
So this morning when I don’t know what to pray and every encouragement or sentiment seems trite in light of this tragedy, I pray the only thing I know is consistent. I pray scripture.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Is. 55:8
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. Nah. 1:7
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thess. 4:13
My bitterness years ago was more an indication of my heart than God’s heart. His character has never wavered since before He created man and called us the pinnacle of His creation. What strikes me is that He called us that knowing that we would reject Him, question Him, and run from Him.
The thing I’ve learned is that God’s goodness is not measured by my circumstances or feelings. It is based on His unwavering character and it is woven throughout His word. The same book that says He is sovereign and good when bad things strike is also the same book that says He is comforter, healer, peace, joy, and that He is about His glory. That also means that anything that comes our way is for our good, even suffering.
Does that taste bitter? I know it does to me. How the heck is losing a child or a spouse or contracting a deadly disease for our good? I can only tell you what I have seen and heard, and without a doubt, those people who claim the name of Christ and walk through those circumstance emerge like gold in that refining. It sucks. It feels like their hearts are physically being ripped from their bodies. But HE IS DOING SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL in the mess and tragedy.
I can’t prove it to you. The thing about arguing the goodness of God is that you don’t believe it until you CHOOSE to taste and see that He is good, blessed is the man who trusts in Him (Psalm 34:8). If your world is crashing in, try reaching out to Jesus. He is a Father that comforts, renews, restores, and walks through the trials with us. My suspicion is that if you are in the midst of a storm, you have nothing to lose. His character has never been disputed by those who walk with Him.
As I stood before my mirror this morning, aching for the pain my friends are experiencing, I was comforted by this: that my why is not a question of God’s character but more confusion and anticipation of how God is going to restore this incredibly broken situation for something beautiful. I am CHOOSING to trust Him, because I know He is trustworthy. Will you?