Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Prayer: Part Four

When people talk about the point of the book of Job they often sum it up as addressing such questions as: “Why do people suffer?” or “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?”

I think those are the wrong questions.

I’ve been thinking about my life lately, and if it was a story I was reading I would have to say it is fiction, and poorly written at that. But, as one of my favorite authors was fond of saying: “Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.” (Mark Twain)

There has been a lot of suffering going on lately. The United States has seen some of it. Katrina, Rita, 9-11. . . As bad as those were, the world often sees worse. The December tsunami, war, famine. . . And there are catastrophes coming: the African AIDS epidemic, the Asian flu. And worse is possible: collapsing ecologies, nuclear arming of rogue nations, near Earth asteroids, global warming, earthquakes in California, the impending La Palma volcano tsunami. . .

Christians posit that our creator is good, that He loves us. So how can there be so much heart ache, so much suffering? What of my own aches? Why did Willy have to die? Why are my children of such low intelligence? My heart is aching today with new challenges that frighten me, that threaten my family. Why would He let such things happen?

There is a song about starvation by Sade that nearly makes me weep:

Pearls
There is a woman in Somalia
Scraping for pearls on the roadside
There's a force stronger than nature
Keeps her will alive
This is how she's dying
She's dying to survive
Don't know what she's made of
I would like to be that brave

She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives a life she didn't choose
And it hurts like brand-new shoes

Hurts like brand-new shoes

There is a woman in Somalia
The sun gives her no mercy
The same sky we lay under
Burns her to the bone
Long as afternoon shadows
It's gonna take her to get home
Each grain carefully wrapped up
Pearls for her little girl

Hallelujah
Hallelujah

She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives in a world she didn't choose
And it hurts like brand-new shoes
Hurts like brand-new shoes


This isn’t fiction. There are people dying today because they haven’t enough to eat, searching for grains of rice in the dirt. My own son has the marks of starvation on his body.

Is this right? Is this just? Why doesn’t He do something about it?

No. No. And, He is.

We were given a sense of right and wrong, and these things feel wrong. God gave us that inner set of balances to judge our world. And these things are wrong. But we live in a fallen world and it was inevitable that it would be. If it wasn’t Adam or Eve who broke the LORD’s commandments it would have been one of their children.

So what is He doing about it?

Well, what are you doing about it? The Bible says that we are the body. Our hands are supposed to be doing His work. And if we listen to Him, we will know what that work is. It is an amazing feeling.

As I have hinted things have taken another strange twist. And for now, hints are all I feel free to give. But the task before me is huge. Bigger than getting through the grief of the death of my first child. Bigger than adopting my next two children.

But though I am not big enough to handle this, He is. And I know that since He has given me this task, it will be accomplished. He will provide the strength, the patience, the endurance, the resources to do whatever He wishes to be done.

How do I know? He told me. I prayed that He would permit me to feel Him near, to let me know that I do not walk this path alone. And I do feel Him! There is a sense of peace about me that pervades all the tension, all the fears. I know that He will sustain me, protect me.

I know this because I have been praying. I have let Him into my life and He pours grace into it continually. It sounds nuts, I know, but I will not curse Him for I see that He is good. He works wonders continuously.

Here is a wonder that amazes me: He has forgiven me for all I have done wrong. Every selfish act I have ever committed He has forgiven. And I keep doing them! I try to obey, but I continue to fail Him, and when I go to share my life with Him, I find that He brushes aside my short comings with a fatherly smile and welcomes me back! He never tires of my coming to Him. He is always ready to hear what petty things seem important to me.

Prayer is what it is all about. And the more I pray the more I realize that the hurtful things that happen in the world are all about being a part of a mortal life that is full of selfishness, self-centeredness. And as far as that goes, I can handle a brief century of hard mortal experience, especially if it prepares me better to be of unique service to Him in an eternal immortal one.

He generally avoids the flashy setting of things straight with miracles, though I know He will do those in a pinch. If He were to step into the world and right every wrong it would be such an over abundant source of proof that faith would no longer be faith but merely sight. We need to believe in Him because we are listening to our hearts, not our minds. But the biggest miracles He performs are the quiet ones. The change in peoples’ lives. The softening of hearts.

That is a miracle all of us can have. And it is right there, right now. All that is needed is a quiet moment, and a repentant heart offered in humility.

So whatever path you are on, know that He wants to walk beside you. He is following your movements anyway. He just needs you to offer him a closer spot in your life and He will draw close.

Why do people suffer? Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?

A better question is why does He love me so? I am so fickle and self-absorbed.

The real question is why does He honor me so much as to give me difficult tasks to do for Him? What a privelege to be told that such mighty tasks are mine!

We choose to listen to our minds rather than our hearts. Our hearts are telling us a story of love, and if listen we will see that our hands are the hands of Him.

89 comments:

David said...

Extremely powerful again. I so learned more about you today - the loss of a child, your faith.

I guess we can lose a child in more ways than one. And the pain is not the same, but it hurts no less.

This one I am going to cut and past to my word program so that I can read it over many times. Thank you for sharing.

MMM said...

(gasp)

you hit the GodSpot! :)

and yes, i wonder why He would love me, too. :)

ammmen, brother.

van.diesel said...

Great post. When disaster strikes, there are almost always 2 attributes (at least) of God that come into question - His goodness and His sovereignty. It is only the frailty of man that feels either God's goodness or His sovereignty is somehow diminished by disaster. Did God know - even ordain - that Hurricane Katrina would wreak such havoc upon our neighbors to the south? Absolutely. Did He know all those people would be left houseless, possessionless, fleeing their homes for their lives? Yes indeed. Did He ordain each death, each loss of a child, a parent, a spouse, a friend? He foreknew every single one. But His sovereignty and His goodness remain intact. Our doubt takes nothing away, just as our belief adds nothing to them.

http://vandorsten.blogspot.com/2005/09/god-on-trial.html

jvd

bjk said...

I know all that you say is true and I know that IF I would stop wrestling with Him and just SURRENDER.....thanks

Jane said...

I've grown up with free reign in the relgion department. As a result I am taking bits and pieces from all that I hear and learn. I have always believed that there has been a creator. The world is so awe-some that I can't help but believe. I have also always believed that our creator has only had that one job, to sculpt and deliver and everything else is in our hands. I also believe that nothing is random except the physical killing of another. That seems too foolish for me to believet that it is planned.

JB by Archibald McLeigsh was written for the same reasons you are writing this. These are terrible events, but it is life we should be looking at, the living, the dead continue to live and go on and advice, we can't focus on the constant horror we have to focus on bettering each other.

I think...

wanda said...

Bad things happen to all people, good and bad. Which leads to the question, are there really bad people or just lost, misguided souls?
When difficulties come our way it is a test of our faith. How can we say we are faithful servants if we have never been tested?

If we believe and remain steadfast in our faith, we know there are great rewards that await us in heaven. Sometimes that knowledge is all that sustains us.
Just Breathe...

Lillee said...

I really enjoyed your blog, which I found through David.

Nancy said...

This is a great and beautiful reminder -- thanks so much!

Joash Chan said...

speechless, my friend.

hazelorbs said...

as always, words of wisdom...too often we are so focused on the "why me's" that we lose sight of the bigger picture..."why not?" i always think of the refining fire...each trial, each difficulty, each pain is like the striking of the hammer on the metal in the fire...refining and shaping us...molding us into something stronger, something better, something more. all of it refining us into who God created us to be.

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