Twenty-five years ago this past October, a man lay deathly ill in a hospital, dying from a ten year battle with cancer. A few days before, he had been told that pneumonia had set in and he was not likely to recover from it; the family had come to give their last goodbyes. His brother was keeping vigil through the night as the man slept an exhausted sleep. Suddenly, he roused and looked up at the ceiling with a smile on his face. Then his breathing slowed and stopped as the angels took him Home. Even though cancer had just triumphed over a vibrant young man, the room was filled with a heavenly hush.
That man was my dad...
But you know, it doesn’t take very long until that heavenly hush is gone and in its place is the crushing load of death that starts to overwhelm us, and we ask: God, WHY?! Why did you take a very talented man at work who could create a computer operated feed mill? Why did you take someone who had a cheery smile for everyone he met and took an interest in everyone? Why did you take a man who was strong in faith, that inspired others to walk with God? Why did you leave a young widow to raise five children on her own without her strong husband by her side? Sometimes people would comment to me that it is because of Daddy that they are who they are. But here I am struggling with things in life that very likely are a result of not having a daddy in those crucial years of my life. God, it isn't fair!
Sometimes in life, we ask the question, Why do good people suffer and die? Why does God allow pain and hardship in life? While a lot of us may never experience the crushing load that comes from the death of a close loved one, all of us will sooner or later be burdened down with some heavy weight or troublesome question. We would like to look at a couple of simple truths about pain in this world.
We live in a sin-cursed world. Sometimes we can grapple with whether God brings hard things into our lives or whether Satan brought it on us, and God is allowing it. Who should we blame? I don't think that we will ever get an answer in this life to that question. The reality is that we live in a fallen world and we will experience the pain of it. But, in spite of that, God has promised that He will provide beauty for ashes, and we need to focus on that instead of who brought this pain into our lives.
God wants us to experience Him. There is an interesting passage in Exodus 5:22-6:8 where Moses asked God why. He had just met with Pharoah for the first time, and Pharoah had despised him and made the Hebrews start gathering straw themselves. "And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all" (Ex 5:22, 23). In chapter 6 God responds to Moses' questions with some promises of what all He would do for the children of Israel. I would like to highlight one of them specifically. In verse 3, God makes an interesting statement, "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah was I not known to them." Jehovah, that is, a God performing what He had promised, and finishing His own work. Up to this point, they only saw God as an Almighty God Who exists. He had made a lot of promises but had not fulfilled many of them. But now He was going to be Jehovah to them, a God who would fulfill His promises. They knew about God, but God was ready for them to experience Him. God wants us to move from a head knowledge about Him to a heart experience with Him. When times are easy, we tend to lapse into a relationship where we know of God, but we don’t genuinely experience Him in our lives. We don’t “need Him” very much. If you are facing something hard in your life, be confident that God wants to be Jehovah in your life. He wants to fulfill His promises in you in a real way. He wants you to experience Him.
God has a special place in His heart for the hurting. In Luke 4:18, 19 Jesus read the prophecy about why He would come to the earth. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to the captives; and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Jesus came specifically for the hurting. God also has a special love and care for the fatherless and widow. There are numerous verses where God commands His people to care for the fatherless and widows. It reveals again how much God cares about those who are hurting.
God receives glory. We all enjoy stories of people who succeed in spite of insurmountable odds. Whether it is terminal cancer, an impossible heroic rescue, or someone who becomes successful even though they had a terrible home life. The world likes to lift up those people as heroes because of what they did. They receive the glory. God, at times, allows things to come into our lives that are bigger than we can face on our own, so that He can reveal His power and love to us and those around us. Then He receives the glory for what happens in our lives, not us.
We will never understand everything in this life. There are a lot of things in life that we never will understand, and that is okay. If we knew everything and understood everything, we wouldn't need God or faith. In those times of "why" we need to reach out in faith and believe that God knows what is best and that He will work His will in our lives, giving us what is best for us.
So the next time you face the question, "God, WHY?" remember that God has a special place in His heart for the hurting. He wants us to move from knowing about Him to experiencing His work in our hearts and lives. As we give Him the glory, others who are hurting will see God and turn to Him as well. In eternity, God will open our eyes, and we will understand His workings in our lives, and we will praise Him for His faithfulness.