• June 25, 2022

God and Suffering – Is He trying to get you?

Time is over. The answer to his prayer has not come. The boy is dead. The job is lost. The marriage is over. The grievance overwhelms you. Despair sets in quickly. Someone mentions that God will find a way to bring you good despite your losses. You can’t imagine how that would be possible, but you yearn for some kind of relief. Years pass and the torment continues. Your next child has a chronic illness. You hate your new job. Another failed marriage. Where is the good that was supposed to happen?

On the morning of November 17, 1999, I was hospitalized in a Chicago suburb for complications following the removal of my gallbladder. She was 5 months pregnant and exhibiting the classic signs of internal bleeding. He had been readmitted three days earlier after some severe symptoms at home. I felt like my team of doctors forgot about me when a nurse told me that my blood counts were very low and that I needed a blood transfusion, and yet I never received a blood transfusion or went to see a doctor. until the morning of the 17th.

My husband was attending seminary during this time. He had been ill for most of our marriage and carried a heavy load of guilt over his continued sacrifice for me. I practically begged her to come to class that morning. “I’ll be fine,” I told him. “I’ll call if I need anything.” Somehow my breath worked and it was gone.

Around 8:30 am I received a call on the phone in my hospital room. It was my older sister. “Dad died in a car accident!” she yelled in a voice full of panic. I don’t know what I said in response because I had passed out. They told me several days later that I had “coded”: they couldn’t find a heartbeat or blood pressure on me.

Fortunately, a concierge entered my room and found me unconscious. Finally a team of doctors appeared. Our son’s heartbeat was fading as they prepared me for emergency surgery. He was dead when the operation was completed.

They called my survival a “miracle,” and yet somehow I didn’t feel lucky. My recurring nightmare had come true: I gave birth to a small, dead, red baby. It felt like someone had tied me upside down and beat me to within an inch of my life. And the fact that I stayed soon became a source of great pain. Suicide was now on my mind again. I wanted out!

I did not walk away from my faith immediately. For a few weeks, I kept using the same old tactics, “It’s okay,” I told my nurse as she handed our stillborn son to me, “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

When I could barely walk, I attended a Future Pastor’s Wives Bible Study. When the group leader responded to my tears by misusing the Bible to suggest that my suffering was insignificant, just good in disguise, part of God’s plan, and necessary for my growth, well, I just smiled and thanked. his. However, this charade could only go on for so long.

“Well in disguise? Are you crazy?” He was asking me. “You expect me to believe that the death of my mother-in-law, my mother, my father, my unborn child, and facing a lifetime of chronic illness, as well as the possibility of never having another child, that all this pain is really good? What is part of God’s plan? If this is God’s way of running things, then I want to get out of the church, out of the faith, and out of this world. Hell than commune with a Heavenly Father who makes me suffer or allow me to suffer this way!” He was a little angry!

And so, within a few weeks, I gave up my daily devotions… I put my Bible on the shelf, announced my departure from the faith to my husband, and just sat in the pews to make it look good.

“God wants to catch me,” I told my counselor.

“Really,” he replied. “How do you know?”

“Everything is going wrong in my life. Either I have offended Him terribly or I am so full of sin that this is what He has to do to remove it from me.”

It’s no wonder, given the rampant prevalence of abuse in our society, that we can’t seem to fathom that the one true God of the Universe is in no way, shape, or form to ensnare us or bent on harming us. We cannot be afraid to believe that He is constantly working for our good. We’ve thought of Him just sitting there pressing the “OK” key on cancer, death, illness, marital conflict, job loss, and more, as if He were giving the final OK. BUT IS NOT!

You do not believe me? There is a story in the book of Acts that clarifies this matter for me. It is the story of how the Apostle Paul was held prisoner while traveling on the sea. The crew encountered a fierce storm and Paul, being the evangelist that he was, took advantage of the situation to teach his terrified shipmates about God. Acts 27:21-31 tells how an angel of the Lord appeared to Paul to assure him that everyone on board would survive the storm. It could be said that this angelic being was proclaiming God’s will, his desired outcome… his predestined plan for the trouble that threatened.

Good for Paul and his crew. How good it was for them to have received a word of knowledge about what was to take place. I wish that one of those angels had appeared to me during my darkest hour and said, “Don’t worry, Jennifer. You will be the mother of two extraordinary children. You will recover your health and have the power to tell others about God’s Love. ” But I didn’t know how things were going to turn out. There was no angelic voice to comfort me. Paul and his fellow fellows, however, had a promise. God had clearly stated his intentions and would make sure that this good news came to pass.

But could it have been possible that this good, this saving of lives, this blessing that God had said he wanted, was it possible that God had not gotten what he wanted? Verses 29-32 tell us that they could have died. In these verses, Paul warns that “unless these men remain in the boat, you yourselves cannot be saved.” God willed and one could even say he predestined that these men would live, but if they had left the ship, they would have died.

God could have ordered His universe in such a way that His wishes were automatically fulfilled. He could have dictated our every little move. He could have wound us up like old-fashioned wind-up dolls, placed us on the ground toward the path he wanted us to take, and watched with delight. But we are not wind-up dolls. We are people. And I say that life is too complex to be defined strictly by cause and effect. A + B is not always equal to C. You cannot always determine the value of x just by knowing the other variables. I don’t see this matter of suffering as crystal clear.

In my mind, it’s now obvious: just because you got sick, just because your loved one died, just because someone mistreated you, just because you lost your job, just because your windshield wiper broke, doesn’t mean God intended those hardships. for you. It wasn’t necessarily a test… a punishment… or part of God’s plan.

However, I do believe that God “went looking for me.” He was trying to trap me forever. Whatever you are facing today, know that God loves you. He doesn’t want to hurt you. He, however, wants to catch you…just like I’m hell-bent on capturing my 3-year-old son for a loving hug.

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