Sunday, February 25, 2018

When you have hard questions...

We met at our mailbox and he pointed his finger toward the heavens. "I have some questions", he said, "for Him."  His wife died a few days ago after a long, excruciatingly painful death from cancer.  I simply listened as he wondered aloud why God would let his wife suffer, since she was such a good person, instead of picking him to be the one to suffer.  In his opinion, suffering should be dealt out based on behavior.  I didn't try to defend God or theologically explain why even good people suffer. After all, God Himself didn't give Job, a man whom God described as blameless, an explanation for all the suffering he had gone through.  Instead, God accuses those who did try to come up with reasons for Job's sufferings as having "words without knowledge." (Job 38:1) I'm sure I've also been guilty of being like Job's friends by trying to wrestle with, reason out, explain away, and defend God's reputation when what I see as senseless suffering occurs. All of us have heard God's people say stupid things in the face of tragedy.  Many of us have said some of those stupid things ourselves. This time, thank God, I held my tongue with my neighbor friend.  I just tried to listen and by doing so, to communicate to him that my husband and I are a safe place to ask the hard questions.

It's strange to me that we struggle so with suffering while lavish undeserved blessing occurs as well, and yet we don't struggle with that. God gives us lavish grace and mercy and undeserved blessing and yet we accept it without question. Why was I born in a land of plenty while others are born into poverty? Why was I born healthy, while others are born with disability? We don't wrestle with reasons for blessing nearly as much as we do with the reasons for suffering. Until that blessing comes to one of our enemies, until someone who has hurt or offended us prospers, and then we struggle and cry out,"Why, God, why?"

God doesn't give Job all the answers for suffering nor for blessing.  Instead, He reveals Himself to Job.  He reveals His strength, His power and His sovereignty.  Then, He asks Job some questions. "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." (Job 40:1) "Will you even put Me in the wrong?  Will you condemn Me that you may be in the right?' (Job 40:8)  Job came to the point where he accepted not having all the answers, but he rested and trusted in what he did know.  He knew, by prophetic foreknowledge, that there is a Redeemer Who lives forevermore and that one day He will stand on planet earth. (Job19:25) (Hallelujah! Our Redeemer will make the wrong things right in this sin sick world.)  He knew that God can do all things and that no purposes of God's can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)  And, he knew that he didn't know or understand all things or all of the ways of God and he accepted that fact. (Job 42:3)

Like my friend, I too have had hard questions at times.  During life's darkest hours, when I had more questions than answers, I had to just reach out and let God lead me, questions and all.  I had to trust in the fact of His love for me enough to be honest with Him about my hard questions and even my offenses and anger at Him for what He was permitting me to go through. In doing so, I found that He is, indeed, a safe place for my hard questions, even when He, as with Job, doesn't give me all of the answers. Instead of answers He has just continued to show me more of Himself, more of His steadfast love, more of His faithfulness, more of His strength, perseverance and meekness. As my understanding is growing of Who God is I'm more able to live at peace even with my unanswered questions.

still following,


  1. Well said, Elizabeth! Sometimes the best way to handle suffering and the questions that surface about God's goodness is to simply listen and offer a shoulder to cry on. Thanks for reminding us of this very important mission and trusting that God is big enough to defend Himself.

  2. I need to learn to be a better listener. I usually think I have to put my two cents worth in but maybe the person struggling just needs someone to listen and show that they care by their actions and not words.

  3. Listening is such a gift. I'm so thankful you were able to be that gift to your neighbor. I'm guilty of always wanting to "fix" things. Often, all people want is to be heard. When it comes to your neighbors questions, as you pointed out, we can learn much from Job and his friends. Great post, Elizabeth!


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