I have recently read an article where someone had to deal with the loss of person close to them, that they didn’t understand why sad things happen to wonderful people, and that as believers we shouldn’t ask these questions for fear of questioning God’s love & power.
This statement touched me deeply. In the past, I have also seen bad things happen to wonderful people, or even lose people dear to me.
One I am thinking of particularly is the death of a very special person last fall. He was one of those people who win you over instantly, and we had a few things in common; he was a pastor and had become a friend. I hadn’t known him for many years, but he made it feel like we’d known each other for years, being one of those people who make you feel good and appreciated – just the way you are. We had been talking about the possibility of me coming to his church, either just for a service, or maybe even preach there, and I was looking forward to seeing him soon again at another church leaders’ meeting.
But it never happened since he was killed in a car accident. He was going by bike and was hit, leaving behind his wife and children.
His sudden death shocked and touched me deeply. It didn’t shake my faith, but it shook me. I cried a lot, and was sad still a long time after. I still am, though in a different way than last September. He continues to be an example and an inspiration for me. His life motto and preferred Bible verse was from Psalm 73:28 “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.”
When I got the email at work informing me of his death, I was under shock. I couldn’t believe it. It can’t be true! And then, the question ‘WHY?’
I know that the question “why?” won’t get any answer – but it is a normal, human reaction. We want to know why something happened, in order to give some sort of sense to something that doesn’t make any sense, to calm or grief and our pain, to somehow know that the death, the suffering was not for “nothing”.
Asking “why?” doesn’t question God’s love or power –it is an expression of our humanity, our humanness, our grief, our being in a desperate situation to which we don’t know an answer – a pain that we want to end.
God is big enough to hear our Why’s, our deepest feelings and frustration, our anger, our fear, our desperation. He created us and knows us – He can take it all.
Just look at the Psalms. All the feelings that have been expressed there by people in all sorts of dire situations. Take Psalm 22…
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
We don’t exactly know what kind of situation the author is in, but it must be very hard. Whatever has happened, or is happening, it is beyond his (or her) understanding. They feel like God has abandoned them or at least, is not answering their cries. And they express it to God. All, everything. No holding back. Only honesty.
Being honest, asking why, and expressing our feelings to God doesn’t mean we question God’s goodness; and even having moments of doubt simply means one thing: we are human. Even doubt can be an opportunity to get to know God in a new way, and to let go of certain beliefs, or to re-assess our belief system. All these things lead us, if we permit it, towards a greater intimacy with God as we permit him to meet us and touch us right where we are, re-assuring us of his presence, his promises, his being with us, his love and his grace. Jesus suffered pain and death, and thus knows what they mean to us as human beings. Emanuel – God with us. If we let him, God weeps with us, grieves with us, and goes with us through the healing process.
19But you, Lord! Don’t be far away!
You are my strength!
Come quick and help me!
20 Deliver me from the sword.
Deliver my life from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion.
From the horns of the wild oxen
you have answered me!
22 I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
I will praise you in the very center of the congregation!
23 All of you who revere the Lord—praise him!
All of you who are Jacob’s descendants—honor him!
All of you who are all Israel’s offspring—
stand in awe of him!
24 Because he didn’t despise or detest
the suffering of the one who suffered—
he didn’t hide his face from me.
No, he listened when I cried out to him for help.
He knows the reason why, though I believe that in the face of evil, ultimately, there is no such question as “why?” These things are not part of the plan of God, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11), but they are part of life in this world here and now. But we have a definite hope that one day evil – that which does not make sense, that which is ultimately absurd- will be overcome and have no place when the heavens and the earth will be made anew.