Many people, whether Christian or not, have raised this question during their lifetime. Jesus told us that we would have trouble during our short life here on earth [Genesis 3 16-19, John 15:18-20]. Even history and the life experiences of others, as well as ourselves, tells us of prospective troubles. So we are left with the seemingly unanswerable question that if God really loves us [John 3:16, Romans 5:8], then why do we have to live through our circumstances?
As we begin I do hope that you are having a blessed day. I am putting down my thoughts as I reflect on my life and experiences with God, as well as His Word, in light of a friend’s ongoing situation. Though I have many experiences in life from which I draw my faith and hope, none will exactly mirror another’s experiences. Each is unique and special but all lead us to the same conclusions about life with God as He has revealed Himself through His Word and His work [Hebrews 1:1-2].
Each day, a gift from God [Psalm 118:24], has all the grace needed for that day [Hebrews 4:16]. He faithfully sustains each of His children in the midst of the struggles in life [Psalm 145:14-16]. We face our life struggles on a daily basis, sometimes reliving the same struggles each day we live [Matthew 6:34]. They are not all good and some are not a part of God's perfect will but part of His permissive will. We hold to these concepts by faith [Romans 1:17] and we may never understand the intricacies of His workings [Psalm 103:22], but to lose our hope and our faith places us in a life with no hope at all [Job 7:6]. The daily struggle without hope leaves us joyless and without peace, inside ourselves or in the world around us [Ezekiel 7:25].
The most relevant revelation of God and His workings is found in Job. I am sure you are familiar with this book and have struggled through it several times, as I have also. Job's children’s sufferings were out of their control [Job 1]. It was also outside of Job's control [Job 1:4-5], just as our children’s sufferings are outside of our control. Job cries out to God and questions Him [Job 3ff]. When we call out to God like this we are questioning His faithfulness, His Word and every aspect of His character [Job 38ff]. We want to know what in the world is going on and why is God so silent on the issue. I believe we learn from Job that God is okay with this as long as we approach God as Job did [James 1:5]. Through it all he refuses to lose the integrity of his relationship with God [Job 2:10]. Job knows how God has revealed Himself to him and unwaveringly approaches his struggle firmly planted on this revelation of God. He will not be deterred by family or friends.
Job realizes that he is facing the same question about God that Adam and Eve faced in the garden. Is God a liar [2 Timothy 2:13]? Both Adam and Eve knew what God had said; they knew first hand exactly what He had told them about the two trees in the garden [Genesis 2:15-17]. Then they heard from Satan, and they knew exactly what he said about the one tree in the garden and his distortion of what God had said [Genesis 3ff]. So it was not the disobedient act of eating the fruit that was the sin of Adam and Eve. Their sin was believing in their hearts that God had lied to them and acting on that belief [Titus 1:15-16].
Job faced the same dilemma that we face. Each morning when I wake up I must decide if I will believe God and take Him at His word, with no proof at all [Psalm 33:21-22]. I face questions such as: is He really there [Deuteronomy 31:6], will He give me grace to live through the day [Hebrews 4:16], will there be something I face which I cannot bear, is there a way of escape [1 Corinthians10:13], does He take my bad situations and bring good out of them [Romans 8:28], is He really good [Psalm 25:8], does He really love and show mercy [James 5:11], is He just and righteous [Psalm 7:11], is the blood of Jesus and my faith enough to keep me saved [Romans 5:9], and on and on I could go. If I believe Him as I say I do, then I must face each situation no matter how hard, how dangerous, how hurtful, or how much I understand it, acting on the faith that God is good all the time, He is always there, He loves me and calls me His child [John 1:12], He does not remember my sins [Isaiah 43:25], He delights in me [Zephaniah 3:17] and has desires for me [Jeremiah 29:11], even when I do not see it or feel like it because I choose to believe He is who He says He is and because of who He is He will always act and respond according to His character, His will, and His word [Proverbs 3:5-6].
What was God's response to Job in the end? Job understood that he did not know everything, he did not understand everything [Job 2:1-6]. He learned that God was not bound to explain Himself, and that by faith he needed to continue his relationship with God [Job 40:6-14].
In the midst of my struggles I ask questions, also: Can I praise God for who He [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18] is in spite of my lack of understanding of my circumstances [Isaiah 55:8]? Can I glorify Him when He seems unconcerned about my situations [Romans 15:5-6]? Can I believe that even today He loves people with drastic special needs and that He provides for them through family and friends who will alter their lives and sacrifice themselves for that individual, forsaking all in order to meet the needs which they are totally unable to meet themselves? Does He love people who are desperately struggling with social needs, emotional needs, mental needs, physical needs, financial needs, and especially spiritual needs [Hebrews 7:25]? According to the revelation of God we see in history, and which we find in the Bible, the answer is an overwhelming yes [Romans 8:38-39].
Just like Job we must respond as he did by holding fast to our integrity and faith [Psalm 26:1]. We must accept God’s answer that we do not know everything, that we do not understand everything. We must remember that God is not bound to explain Himself, and that faith is the foundation of our relationship with Him. Keep striving [Philippians 3:12-14].
Hugh Folds – Interim Pastor