Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Heb 12:1-2 (NLT)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Retreat Blog Series 4: When things don't make sense

I took a little break from the Women's Retreat Blog Series over Easter, but I'm not finished yet. I seriously went home from that retreat with so much to think about. This topic is another big one...

One of Sandy Cooper's sessions was on seeking God during hard times. She shared the story of her own loss of her son. And as she was talking about her experience and the struggle with her faith in God during that time, I kept thinking back to a conversation with a friend about the senseless murder of a young girl that had been in the news recently. My friend had made the comment that she just couldn't understand why God would let something like that happen. 

I was struggling with it too. Where I struggled, was in the brutality of it. I found myself asking God that if the little girl had to die, why couldn't it have been a quick, clean death? Why did she have to suffer at the hands of her abductors first? Why does God allow us to get so lost that it takes such terrible grief to create change? 

There is no answer for me. 

I kept thinking about this verse:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV), "'For I know the plans I have you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart'."

Having to suffer unthinkable things at the hands of another seems like such a contradiction to that verse. Even if good does come out of it, how can suffering - possibly to the point of death - be called a hope and a future? 

To use a quote from Sandy's seminar, "It is an incorrect view of Scripture to say that we will always comprehend what God is doing and how our suffering and disappointment fit into His plan. Sooner or later, most of us will come to a point where it appears that God has lost control - or interest - in the affairs of people. It is only an illusion, but one with dangerous implications for spiritual and mental health. Interestingly enough, pain and suffering do not cause the greatest damage. Confusion is the factor that shreds one's faith." (Dr. James Dobson, When God Doesn't Make Sense). 

What we need to have when we don't understand suffering, is an eternal perspective. My suffering here on earth doesn't just affect me here and now, it has consequences outside of this place and time. My hope and my future doesn't end here. In fact, it just begins. My hope and my future is in my eternity.

Sandy went on to talk about what faith really is when you are going through something really terrible. Faith isn't when you believe God and then get what you prayed for. Faith is trusting and believing God even when you don't get what you've prayed for. In other words, it's trusting and believing God even when you don't understand why something has happened or is happening. It's trusting God that there is a purpose to the suffering. That there will be healing from the suffering. It's trusting God that even suffering is for my (eternal) best interest. 

Trusting that God is still in control even if we can't see it. 

I believe that there is no way we can possibly know all that will happen as a result of that little girl's death. I'm sure that voicing any of the possibilities would sound hollow to her grieving family members. What I do feel deep down though, is that there is a heaven and that little girl is there. She is there waiting for her parents. And God will throw such a party when they are reunited. This life is so temporary. That little girl's suffering, while horrendous, was temporary. She's now in an eternity of love and peace. One day God will wipe away all of our tears and take away all the pain we have suffered on this earth (Rev 21:3-4). If I find myself picturing my daughter in that little girl's shoes ever again and wondering how God could allow something like that to happen, it will be these thoughts that I will cling to.  

I was reminded at the retreat that it's okay to question God. It's even okay to get angry with Him. God doesn't get offended at our questions or our anger. But I also know that there are things going on in this world and in the next, that I can't even begin to comprehend.

Blog Retreat Series 1: He rewards those who earnestly seek Him
Blog Retreat Series 2: Are you wickedly busy?
Blog Retreat Series 3: Am I REALLY seeking God?


  1. I have such a hard time understanding horrible acts towards children especially. I will be honest, and say that I do not forgive these acts. It's just not in me. I can lie, and say I do, but I don't.

  2. It's not in me either. The forgiveness would have to come from God. I don't know how else it could happen.


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