When we are in a deep dark place of hurt, it is quite natural to consider things like Job did:
The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the wounded cry for help, yet God ignores their moaning.
Job 24:12 NLT
As I’ve watched the disease of Alzheimer’s steal from my grandmother for years. And as I watch parents lose their children. And as I watch the rich be frivolous with their money while children and widows suffer and starve in this world. And as I watch natural disasters bringing pain, death and destruction. And as I see families impacted by sickness, death, chronic illnesses, hunger, poverty, oppression, injustice, pain and suffering in this world. Who other than the cold hearted can ignore such things that are undeniably around us?
And when it hits close to you and affects someone that you love dearly — or even you personally — what does faith look like in this moments?
“Though You Slay Me” and “It Is Well With My Soul” are two of my favorite Christian songs. They don’t have the typical “raise your hands and bounce” of today’s Sunday morning mega-rave gatherings where “everything is health, wealth, and prosperity”. They speak to a season of suffering, of loss, of faith stretched beyond what can be endure by mere men to where we must rely on God alone — even in that moment where the question from the accuser screams inside our heads, “Where is your God now?”
It is in these places of suffering that idols are revealed and that the veil of this temporary place is torn back to reveal eternal and spiritual things to us. Imagine a child going to school and taking a test for the first time who is horribly afraid of a low grade on a standardized test — while a teacher’s goal is to determine where they can focus their time teaching to best fit the needs of the child for a rounded and comprehensive understanding of all objectives. Imagine a child experiencing an immersive virtual reality game for their first time and being truly terrified that they might fall to their death or be killed — while a loving parent assures them that there is nothing to fear. Imagine a hard working parent choosing to consistently sacrifice a few hours of sleep for years on end to obtain a degree that will open doors for them to better provide for their families.
It is easier for us to see both sides of the coin in the familiar situations that I described — where we must learn to trust that there is a greater purpose than what we can see and feel in the moment. But what about when life truly demands of us whether or not we believe that our God is faithful and true?
I’m not saying this so you’ll hide in the corner sobbing about how you’ve let God down yet again. Some very cold hearts that are far from God might need the ground to shake under their feet like that to wake them up — but you are here reading a Christian blog, so let’s skip past that trap of shame and get right to faith and trust.
Do you trust God in the hard places — because that’s going to be where you need Him most!
And when you’re in that truly hard place, it is going to feel like doubt and suffering — but it has the opportunity to be surrender and spiritual growth.
When everything cries out to us, “Where is your God now?” — we don’t have to win that argument.
When all evidence makes it look on the outside like the enemy is winning — we don’t have to win that battle.
When what lies ahead is clearly more than we can bear under our own power — we don’t have to speak to the burden.
Are there times that a student might feel like the teacher ignores their groanings about having to take a test — but the teacher isn’t truly ignoring them? Yes! Are there times when our not getting the answer we wanted in the moment we wanted it is good for us? Yes!
Lord, if going deeper was easy, everyone would rush to step out of the boat and walk upon the water. And if it was easy, those who stepped out wouldn’t sink and need your rescue. But this trusting in you isn’t so that our own strength can be put on display — but that our weaknesses can bring glory to you revealing your power. And trusting in you doesn’t profit our lives or the lives of others if it is just a one time statement of faith instead of a daily walk. Lord, for all these things, we need you. You are near and not far. You are here, and your victory is complete. You have called us by name, and we believe, we surrender, and we will trust you by the power of your Holy Spirit that you promise us. For the sake of your honor and glory and in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, we boldly come into the throne room of grace with these prayers. Amen.