In the midst of trouble, we cry out to God for help. As we think about God—powerful enough to save us, and loving enough to do so—it is difficult to reconcile any hint of this same God having a hand in our suffering, or tragedies, or traumas. Those who question Christianity use this talking point to drive a wedge of doubt in the believer: How could a good God allow these sufferings of people he is supposed to love? There has been much written on the topic by pastors and theologians much more learned than I.
C.S Lewis said in The Problem of Pain: “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. ‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’ We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the divine love may rest ‘well pleased’.”
There are many comforting ways to see God:
as the Savior He is—He sent His Son Jesus to save us from our sin, from ourselves.
as Love, and He is—we can love Him because He first loved us.
as Comforter, and He is—His Spirit comforts us and lives in us forever.
We see the highs in life—births, healings, promotions—as God’s blessing, and we are thankful to Him.
However, it would be a tragedy of its own to try to confine God. A.W. Tozer addresses this in The Attributes of God: “But a lot of people have gone too far and have written books and poetry that gets everybody believing that God is so kind and loving and gentle. God is so kind that infinity won’t measure it. And God is so loving that He is immeasurably loving. But God is also holy and just.”
In the Womenary courses I have learned so much about the character of God. Belief in the Great I AM means we cannot just believe in God’s more “comforting” attributes. We cannot remove Him from His throne in this way. Malachi 3:6 (ESV) states, “For I the LORD do not change.” God is ALL His attributes ALL the time. He is always loving; always powerful. He possesses all knowledge; is always present; always holy and just. His reach is boundless. All our circumstances flow through God’s hands—ALL of them.
I cannot answer all the whys of life. Why did my father die before 50 leaving my mother with 7 children? Why do both of our daughters suffer from back pain from separate genetic abnormalities? Why does God allow tornadoes that destroy and kill? Why won’t my house sell? Why have I lost my job? The whys go on and on—I am sure you can name some of your own. Why questions usually look backward.
Jesus addresses this in Scripture. Whether He is speaking about the falling of the tower in Siloam that killed 18 people, or about a man born blind, He points us forward. He directs our sight UP, up toward the Light of the world, toward repentance and a relationship with God that brings a joy and peace that surpasses ALL understanding.
Lamentations is a book attributed to Jeremiah at the time of the exile, a book of the Bible marked by suffering, by wailings of sadness and regret as the people are sent into an exile allowed, even orchestrated by God. Yet, out of the pain Jeremiah writes about God: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness(Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV).
The Truth is, God’s wrath for sin never leaves Him, nor does His abundant love and desire for relationship with His people ever diminish. In the tension—between The Rock and a hard, stiff-necked people—Jesus came, sent by God.
It is precisely because He is on His throne that we can find comfort. He is ALL in ALL. We can trust all our circumstances in His sovereign hands and believe what He says of Himself in Exodus 34:6 (ESV): “The LORD, The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”Allelujah! Amen.