Where are you, God? Why is this happening?
Have you ever asked God those types of questions? Have you ever prayed about something and it seems like there are no answers? You cry out to God asking why this is happening to you and no answers come. Have you ever wondered if God is even there at all and if he is there does he even care about you?
Tough. Raw. Questions. And that’s okay. God gets it. He has broad shoulders. He can handle our doubts. I wish I had perfect answers. I don’t and I have often asked these questions myself, but hopefully, I’ll give you some things to think about if you are in a hard place right now or when you find yourself there in the future.
I am a pastoral care minister at Christ’s Church. Recently during a meeting with the pastoral care and counseling team, we went around the room talking about what has been hard lately. Seven people were in the room, and it stood out to me that every single one of us was dealing with difficult family issues right now. It was a good reminder that none of us are immune from the trials and struggles of this world. I suspect it has to do with living in a fallen world. There is pain and suffering in this world and there always will be until Jesus comes back. Some days it is hard to see it, but I believe that God is right there with us through our struggles. I even believe he hurts with us when we hurt. I love 1 Peter 5:7 which reminds us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” As I said, God has broad shoulders. He can handle anything, even our biggest questions, doubts, and struggles.
I recently had the opportunity to go to the musical “Queen Esther” in Branson. I highly recommend it. Just a quick reminder about Esther’s story. The book of Esther is an incredible account of how God intervened at the last minute to save the Jewish people from annihilation. I would encourage you to read it or read it again if it’s been a while. It’s fascinating. In the story, Esther became the Queen of Persia, although she kept her Jewish heritage a secret. When it became evident that her people were going to be completely wiped out, Esther listened to the words of her cousin Mordecai who had raised her as his own. “…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Through a series of events Esther was able to help save her people.
BUT, It wasn’t easy getting there.
In the musical, Mordecai and Esther repeatedly ask questions like “WHERE ARE YOU GOD? AND WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?” They couldn’t understand why God wasn’t intervening. It seemed like God had abandoned them.
But God had a plan.
Here’s the interesting thing about the book of Esther. It is the only book where God’s name isn’t specifically mentioned. I believe that is on purpose. You can’t help but see God’s hands all over this story, but it didn’t always seem that way. I think that is how it is for most of us. In the day-to-day, it is sometimes hard to see where God is, but when I look back on my life I can’t help but see the fingerprints of God all over the place.
So, what’s our job through the difficult times? A few quick thoughts:
Love Well. We can never go wrong by loving the world around us. If we can get ourselves to step back from our situation for a minute we will see that God really does love us. We know that because he showed us his love through Jesus. “For God so loved the world…” It’s the most famous verse for a reason. It’s true. And as a response to God’s love for us, we should share that love with others.
Listen Well. I think God has a lot to say to us if we are willing to stop and listen. That’s not easy for most of us. Are you taking time to quiet yourself before God and just listen? And in your stillness, ask God to teach you.
Learn Well. I feel like I am a pretty slow learner most of the time, but God is patient with me and he is a great teacher, and he is willing to keep teaching if I am willing to learn. And God can use those lessons in our unique situations. Just like Esther, I believe God has placed each of us where we are “for such a time as this.”
Love Well. Yes, I repeated that again. For some reason, I have found that it is a lot easier to know and feel God’s love when we are seeking to love others and to love God.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was in Matthew 22:37-39, his response was two main things: Love God and love people. We can’t go wrong if we do that. Love well!
Are there easy answers to pain and suffering? No, not at all. But as I have wrestled with my struggles through the years I always come back to the conclusion that God really does love me and he is truly there for me even when it doesn’t seem like it, and I know God loves you too!