October 20, 2010
How Could a Loving God Let This Happen?
Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
Today my mind is flooded with thoughts of my friend John*. We've known each other for about a decade. At first we bonded over the struggles of being Christian, single, and searching. But in 2009, John faced bigger challenges than finding a date: He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.
After a year of very difficult treatment, the cancer finally gave John a break, and he began making long-term plans again. Part of his planning included proposing to the love of his life. Everyone was so happy for him. Last week John married his love. I want to be happy but I know why the wedding was pushed to last week instead of happening when it was originally planned: John's cancer is threatening his life again. John and his new wife are spending their honeymoon in the hospital.
Mental images of John and his wife in a sterile hospital room make one thing obvious: this isn't the way it's supposed to be. This is one of those times when life is not fair. When life is tragic.
I can only imagine what it must be like to be a newlywed fearing for the life of your husband. Or to be a husband wanting so badly to take care of your new wife but instead needing her to take care of you.
It's times like this that only the Cross brings comfort. At least for me. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for them.
But I see a suffering God who doesn't love tragedy -- who loves life. He loves John. He loves John's wife. He loves each one of us so much He was willing to undergo excruciating pain and death to give us life to the fullest. He is not some God who sits in the clouds watching us suffer. He has been through it too and has wept bitterly at the tragedy of it all.
Christ's suffering ultimately led to the resurrection. God has a way of doing that. Taking the worst and making it better than we could ever have imagined.
But I don't want to act like the resurrection makes suffering easier. It's not easy believing in God during tough times. I recently ran across a fierce debate among those struggling with infertility. Many expressed agony over it. Many asked the same questions that have been asked throughout history like, "How can a loving God allow me to suffer so much?"
This is a fair question. I've asked it myself when faced with my own struggles. How could He? If He is powerful enough to stop suffering, than why doesn't He? If He loves me, why would He let me hurt?
We can't tackle this problem or all the questions in one devotional entry. My reflection today isn't about giving all the answers but simply letting people know that if they are suffering, they are not alone. I encourage anyone going through a tough time to reach out to those you trust. To read the wisdom of those who have "been there," including the Gospels.
Don't leave the questions rattling around in your head or try to push through it alone. Suffering has a way of helping us grow - in character, in our relationship with God and others - but it also tempts us to make poor decisions. We need the support of the Body of Christ, especially those who know suffering and have found truth, peace, hope, faith and love on the journey.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Are you experiencing a period of suffering in your life? Pick up the phone, join a Bible study, make connections. God often works through His Church to comfort those who mourn.
Should We Fire God? A Virginia Tech Pastor on Faith after Crisis by Sarah Jennings
The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux