Sympathy or Symphony?
"I therefore looked for good to come. Evil came instead. I waited for the light. Darkness came. My heart is troubled and restless. Waves of affliction have come upon me." (TLB) Job 30:26-27
What should we do when God seems silent? How can we stay hopeful?
Kristine had taken her son from their home in California to her parents' house in Colorado so he could spend some time with his grandparents. "I had only been on the road for a few hours when my dad called and told me that Mom was in the hospital. She seemed fine when I hugged her good-bye," Kristine says. "I asked Dad if I should return, but he told me to keep going home; he simply wanted to keep me in the loop."
Twelve hours later, Kristine's Dad called again and pleaded with her to get back to Colorado as quickly as she could. Her mom had taken a fast decline for the worse.
Kristine remembers feeling scared, anxious, numb, sad, and confused. She immediately started praying as she began the thirteen-hour drive to her parents' home. "I asked God to show Himself to me," she says. "And as soon as those words left my mouth, I had such a great peace."
By the time she arrived in Colorado, things were even worse. "My mom had suffered an aortic dissection, and there was little chance for recovery," Kristine says. "I knew God was there with us. His presence was so close! My confidence in Him assured me that whatever happened, He was going to use this for His glory."
Kristine's mom passed away three days later. At her funeral service, several people shared how she allowed God to work in her life. "We eventually went back to our normal routines," Kristine says. "But I knew God wasn't finished using my mom's life."
Three years later, Kristine's younger brother gave his life to Christ. "Our family had been praying for more than twenty years for his salvation. Because he saw the faith that I had and the fact that I trusted God in this painful situation, he knew he wanted what I had. God really does have the power to use all things for His glory."
Now Kristine's brother also lives with strong God confidence and leans on it often.
It's been said that when bad things happen to us, we can either recruit sympathy or demonstrate a symphony. A Christian who lacks God confidence relishes sympathy. Because their faith is weak, they depend on the sympathy and attention from others to make them feel better.
But a Christian who lives with God confidence produces a symphony in the midst of hard times. Using the pain, he learns to orchestrate beautiful music out of the situation. He grows from it. He learns how to become even stronger in his faith. And to those around him, he's a witness of God's harmony and peace.
Think about Job from the Old Testament. He certainly had his share of grief and loss! He was a wealthy man who lost his entire family and all his livestock in one day. Instead of calling attention to himself, he sought God. When his friends came to visit, they tried to convince him he had sinned and brought the calamities on himself.
Still Job didn't recruit sympathy from them--though they were willing to give it if he would admit his sin. Job knew he was righteous. He was packed with God confidence. He knew that bad things happened to good people and to bad people.
He patiently waited on God, and His Creator used Job's life to create a symphony of His mercy. God gave Job back several times what he had lost. What a symphony of God's love!
Lord, help me to remain faithful when life is hard. Help me to have hope when life doesn't make sense. Amen.