One question we all wrestle over is the legitimate confusion we have about suffering. I know this guy who is a really bad dude; he hurts others and one would think that the justice system would stop his reign of terror. It hasn’t happened yet! He keeps getting released from jail with a long list of instructions to follow, all of which he ignores. Even his grandmother (and you know how we Memes are about our grandbabies!!!) is scared of him. I got a ticket for an illegal U-turn one time and was sure they were going to lock me up for life. What’s up with this guy?
I know this other sweet, loving family who seem targeted for suffering. They’ve lost three family members in six months, their young child was diagnosed with cancer, their house burned down and the primary breadwinner in the family lost her job due to downsizing.
When these crazy dynamics collide, our community often asks: “ What’s up with God. Where is he? Why doesn’t he intervene? Why does he send suffering on the righteous? Why don’t the bad guys get what they deserve?” These are great questions and I get itchy with anticipation for the great discussions we have because of our community’s willingness to wrestle what they honestly wonder about God and his ways.
In the next few posts I am going to unpack a few things about this. But first, here’s a scripture for consideration:
What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.
So God said, in effect,
“If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them – the God we bless, the God who blesses US.
Romans 1, The Message
Point one: God has boundaries. God hasn’t a codependent bone in his body. God doesn’t interrupt the consequences of our choices like a helicopter parent. But what God does quite consistently is this: God blesses us. However we parse out our thoughts on what God is or is not up to, I put a stake in the ground and raise a flag to remind me of this one true thing: God made us and God blesses us. No matter what my eyes can see, I must interpret it through this filter: God made us and God blesses us. We can have all sorts of feelings about how life is shaking out for us and those we love, but this one thing we must factor into the narrative: God made us and God blesses us.
How have you either remembered or forgotten this when you are trying to make sense of suffering? To be continued….