No picture with this one…no one photo would fit because they come at us at different times in our lives, through different events and circumstances. Sometimes we’re the children, the innocent ones, the ones who love them, are bound to them, the casualties of someone else’s mess. Sometimes we’re the catalysts, those who cause the hurt and pain and horror that impacts and scars and burns deeply into the life of others. Either way, there’s always that question that crops up somewhere. “Why would a good and loving God let this happen? I can’t believe in God because of this.”
There are so many things that happen in the world that shatter us, that freeze our faith wherever it is and cause us to keep it at a distance. The senseless, unexplained things that happen seemingly at random. It’s so hard to look kindly at others who aren’t there when we are because we wonder, why us? What did we do? Why aren’t we worth whatever they are? Why is it easy for some and tremendously hard for others?
I don’t have a great answer.
What I do have is personal experience with pain and trials and suffering. And I have asked those questions. And there have been times I’ve screamed at God in anger for what was happening because the hurt was so intense it seemed I wouldn’t recover.
Somewhere between becoming a mother and growing my relationship with the Lord something hit me smack between the eyes. We had Aaron and we had another child we were in the midst of adopting. She was a year younger than he was but something in her young little life caused her to do very terrible things to Aaron. One day I came home while my mother in law was babysitting them and this little girl was sitting on top of Aaron choking him and he was bleeding from having been repeatedly bitten on the face. My mother in law was screaming while holding an empty pitcher, the contents of which she had dumped on the girl child hoping to shock her into stopping the assault. Without a word, I immediately wrapped her tightly with my arms and got her away from Aaron and into her room; I then examined Aaron and determined he would need stitches in his forehead. My mother in law commented that she didn’t realize things could get this bad with this little girl, but she was proud of how I handled what needed to be handled.
I think of that time as a one of hardship, pain and suffering, and going out of my comfort zone and into fire. Not being tough parents but making hard decisions that hurt everyone at the time and caused great emotion, but much later those decisions were seen to be spot on, to be exactly what was needed when it was needed even though they came with costs. I know the Lord was with me, us, during that time, but everyone in our world looked at us askance, many even condemned us.
It made the pain worse, so much so that sometimes I questioned it. Why weren’t we good enough? Should I, we, have just let one child beat the snot out of the other all the time? What about if I let my kids go play in the street and then get mad at the cars that struck them because I didn’t set boundaries for where to play and step in to enforce them when needed? Is it okay to let a child do whatever he or she wants without interference so long as they are happy doing it? Here, Sally, of course you can put the fork in the outlet…you’re having fun. None of us think that is in any way reasonable, right?
But we expect that of God. We expect him to sit back and just smile on whatever choices we make and then make darn sure nothing happens to us when we stick that fork in the outlet. And when it does, we get mad and we stop believing, stop having faith.
Or maybe we were the innocent ones and other people were pushing the fork in the outlet, people we love and trust and look to protect us and care for us and treat us fair and right, but didn’t. Where, oh God, were you then? Why didn’t you swoop in and save us? Why did you let us go through this? Why, why, why?
That’s the hardest of all. And I don’t know if we will ever find an answer this side of Heaven.
But I do know what we will find here on earth if we want it…we will find God was with us, we will find that nothing touched us without passing through Him because He gives us the tools we need to go through whatever it is…if we believe and turn to Him. He is the comforter, the healer, the maker, the creator…and wants us to know we are loved through any and every circumstance.
How? How did God show me that when all the awful and terrible was happening?
Maybe it was the strength you had to go through it. Maybe it was one kind soul who you could turn to. Maybe it was a special animal that you whispered your hurts to. Maybe it was a book that let you escape your world for an hour or two. Maybe it was the something in your heart that kept telling you to go on, go on, you can do this. Maybe it was anger, anger that you turned to determination, something good and useful and purposeful, to help you not be the person who hurts others like that.
But you hold on to the anger with God and the disbelief because if you give even a tiny bit of your heart there, you’re afraid it’ll break again.
Fear. It’s fear that traps and holds us.
What if the truth hurts more than what happened? What if the truth is that whatever happened to hurt you really has nothing to do with you?
When we made the hard decision to let this little girl go to another family, one thing kept running through my mind…this might not be about me, us. This might be about her, her needs that we aren’t capable of meeting. And though I was blasted, criticized, and ostracized, this little girl went to a place where she got the help she needed, found the parents who could meet her where she was, and give her all she deserved. It wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about Aaron. It wasn’t about us. We were the fall out, as unfair as that was, but years later, it was good.
Ah, you say, this isn’t the same as my hurts. Hurt, pain, grief and suffering are still hurt, pain, grief and suffering. It’s what we do with it, how we live with and through it, that makes us who we are.
Believing is a choice, too. Believing and accepting God’s promises. And when that happens, faith occurs. Faith is believing in something we cannot see or touch, but life gives us experiences that, when lived in faith in Christ, crushes doubt.
We have a good God. Bad things break our hearts, minds, bodies, families, marriages, homes, etc. God is still God. And He hasn’t given up on you.
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