By Meredith Mills
Why, God? Why?
Has that question ever haunted you? Does your faith flounder when life deals a low blow, like our punching bag shuddering before my kids’ Kung Fu fists?
Mine does sometimes, especially when logic goes unsatisfied and cliché answers just won’t do. It’s been one of those seasons for me lately as we’ve grieved with several friends over the loss of beloved family members.
If you, too, wonder why, I invite you into the wrestling match within my soul.
Here are some of the questions I’ve been asking God lately:
If You are sovereign, as Your Word says You are, why do You sometimes allow horrible things to happen? I get the whole “free will” thing – some people chose to hurt others. And if I’m honest, I hurt others at times, too.
But why accidents? If You are good, as I’ve tasted and seen You are, why don’t You stop them before they occur?
I can’t make sense of this. And my heart is afraid to trust You with my future.
Oh, the comfort of bringing my restless heart to Jesus and listening as He speaks through His Spirit and His Word.
God led me to the story of Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11). Remember that time when He could have stopped His friend from dying, but He didn’t? He didn’t get there in time – on purpose.
I’ve never before noticed the connection between verses five and six. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days.”
Because He loved them, He stayed away long enough to let Lazarus die.
That seems utterly illogical. Lazarus’ sisters thought so, too. They both essentially accused Jesus of not loving them because He let their brother die through His tardiness. Divine love often baffles human reason.
Yet Jesus didn’t get angry with their questions or rebuke their boldness. On the contrary, He did something quite the opposite.
Jesus wept (John 11:35).
He knew the miracle He was about to perform – He would command death to release it’s grip on His friend. Within minutes, He would restore Lazarus to life and give him back into his sisters’ arms.
Yet His heart was so deeply moved by His loved ones’ suffering that He, too, wept with them. He felt their pain, and He feels ours, too.
He could have prevented Lazarus’ death, but He saw a bigger picture. Instead, He drew near to the sisters and wept with them.
This is Emmanuel, God with us. Near to the brokenhearted. A very present help in our need (Psalm 34:18, 46:1). The God of comfort restores shattered lives, trades beauty for ashes and replaces heaviness with praise.
He knows the end of our story, too – that for believers in Jesus, death is not the end. One day our suffering will be over. Like Lazarus and his sisters, we will be reunited with those gone before us into heaven.
But Jesus’ knowledge of the future doesn’t prevent Him from feeling our pain in the present or pouring out His comfort in abundant measure.
After weeping with Mary and Martha, He proved that He Himself is the resurrection and the life. Death has no hold on Him. And one day, it will have no hold on us either.
Until that day, there will be many unanswered questions. Many times we won’t understand or feel the love of God. We’ll have many opportunities to wrestle with Him and choose faith when nothing makes sense, because we’ve found that Jesus alone holds life, hope, healing and peace.
He will set all things right someday.
In the meantime, He is so close, and His nearness is our good.
How has God walked you through wrestling matches of the soul? I’d love to hear – please leave a comment below.