I believe in the goodness of God, but have found myself on occasion troubled by my Grandmother’s story of pain and suffering and trying to make sense of life when it makes no sense at all. Losing your father during your youth, watching cancer take your sister away from her babies, burying a son crushed by the weight of another’s drink, depression, bipolar disease, breast cancer, dementia; these chapters in my grandmother’s life have led me to question, “How could a God who is good, loving, faithful and kind put these trials in the life of one who I have always known to love and honor His name? How does one make sense of that?”
What Grandma didn’t know she taught me is that there are things in life that don’t make sense; things that I may not understand why they have to be the way they are, things I wish were different. And, though my questions come, I simply do not need to ask why, or how, but instead simply choose to trust God and believe He will be faithful on the other side, and that things will be resolved.
We all have pain. We all struggle. We have questions and we wonder, “Where is God in all this?” There is a tendency to think, “I hope I get over that. I hope someday I just get passed that, and everything will be okay.” Grandma will tell you: that doesn’t work. You just get deeper and deeper into a dark place. The only way out is to surrender. You have to surrender the need for answers. You have to surrender the need for everything to make sense. You have to surrender the experiences of life and simply, by faith, trust that God is who He says He is, and you choose, as an act of your will, to believe that and trust that God will meet you in your hour of pain and begin a process of healing and restore you.
Is there pain in the memory of losing a child? Of course there is. There will always be. How do you take the pain out of that? When is that memory not painful? Of course it’s painful, but there was no anger left there, I did not see bitterness in her, and I can guarantee you that Grandma’s circumstances did not define her view of God as I knew it to be.
I believe Grandma (Gigi, Mom, Aunt, Mrs. Carlson, Joyce) would say this:
“Trust me. You won’t just get over it, it isn’t going to fix itself. You have to lay it down. You have to surrender it. For you, like me, this may be a courageous moment of faith, to believe, in spite of circumstances, that God is who He says He is. That He will touch you in your place of pain and begin to bring healing.”
Hebrews 11:6 says, “Those who come to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” In essence, what that is saying is: we want to see and then believe, and God says, “It doesn’t work that way. You have to believe and I’ll meet you there.” Grandma found Hebrews 11:6 to be true. When she surrendered, when she had the courage to take God at His Word and believe, by faith, God met her there in her hour of pain and began a process of healing, a process of healing her pain. No answers to her questions… no explanations… no making sense of that. Just God becoming, for her, a place of refuge and beginning a process of healing that she found in the joy of her salvation.
God promises that there is resolution in the world to come. Somehow, He’ll make sense of it all. Somehow He’ll sort it all out. Somehow, He’s promised He’ll make things right.
…until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. – P S A L M 7 3 : 1 7 – 2 8