Being a Christian for as long as I have, I’ve met many people who have walked away from God. They were once faithful believers. But then a grandmother died. Or a sister got raped. Or a parent abused them. Or a church split. And, suddenly, they were shaking their fists at God. “I was doing all the right things,” they say. “I prayed all the right prayers. I went to church every Sunday. Why would God allow such things to happen to me?”
Good question. Then again, maybe not so much.
When my family was going through a tough time not too long ago, I asked God the same question: “Why me?” He answered, “Why not you? What makes you think you’re special enough to have a life spared of all trouble and heartache?”
Now that’s a good question. Needless to say, I suddenly felt 3 inches tall.
See, when you think about it, even God experiences heartache. In the beginning, He watched his creation turn their backs on Him. Then He watched His only son die a gruesome, torturous death. Now He looks on as people slander His name and twist the words of His gospel for their own devious ends.
All of Jesus’ closest disciples faced hardship after His ascension. Many were imprisoned for their preaching. All but one were martyred for their faith.
Moses led a hostile mob through the desert. Elijah was hunted down by a powerful queen. King David lost a newborn child. Paul was flogged. Stephen was stoned to death. Daniel and his three best friends were tossed into a furnace. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and slandered by his master’s wife. Job lost health, wealth, and 10 children. Mary watched her firstborn son hang on a cross. Behind every instance of restoration and triumph in the Bible lies a story of immense human suffering. None of us are immune. It’s the price we pay for living in a corrupt world. And the preachers who claim believers can have a trouble-free life by just saying and doing the “right” things ought to have their tongues docked.
Questions about why we suffer are never easy to answer. But here’s what I do know: Every good thing I have comes from God (James 1:17). That includes the air in my lungs.
This corrupt world can offer me many things: music, entertainment, alcohol, drugs, sex, money, a release from any sort of moral obligation. But it cannot offer me life or joy or hope. It cannot grant me an eternity in the presence of divine love. This world cannot prevent my suffering; it can only add to it. That’s why Job said, in the midst of his misery, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in [God]” (Job 13:15).
Though I lose my possessions…
Though my savings account runs dry…
Though my unborn child perish…
I still have hope in Him.