Sunday, April 29, 2007

When God Doesn't Make Sense

The call was unexpected. "I'm sorry," John said, "but we won't be able to make it for dinner tonight... Julie's bleeding." The words hung heavy in the air as I absorbed their meaning. Miscarriage. Their third. It was one of those moments when God truly didn’t make sense.

Everyone faces something in their life that makes them ask why. "Why would God allow suffering?" "Why would God let this happen?" "Why do bad things happen to good people?" "Why?" It's hard to understand why a loving God would allow His people to suffer in inexpressible ways. Why when He chooses to bless, does He sometimes choose to take away.

But God doesn’t expect us to know the answer to our question of why. He asks us however to trust Him, even when His plan doesn’t make sense to us. It is through trial that our faith in Him is tested and made stronger. It is through our pain that we see Him in a new and powerful way. We see a God who cares, a God who strengthens, a God whose promises are true, and a God who knows more than we do. We only see a tiny part of the plan, but God sees the whole picture. And because we can’t see what He sees, we must trust Him.

Dr. James C. Dobson in his book When God Doesn’t Make Sense, uses Abraham as an illustration of a time when God didn’t make sense. Abraham and Sarah were infertile, but God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be more than the stars in the sky. So Abraham trusted God, and God proved true by giving them a son even in their old age. Then, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham again trusted Him and followed God’s instruction. Even when all the facts before him proved that there was no way, God simply asked Abraham to not waver in His unbelief. To put his trust in His promise.

When everything in life is shaken, and makes no sense to us, God wants us to hold onto Him – to hold unto the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. To hold onto the promise that He knows the plans He has for us – plans not to harm us but to give us hope (Jeremiah 29). He asks us simply that we do not let go – even when it hurts and doesn’t make sense.

This may not make the pain go away, nor will it give us the answers we seek in the moment of crisis, but He does promise to see us through, to give us strength, and to comfort us with His peace. Isaiah 43 says that “when [we] pass through the waters, [He] will be with [us]; and when [we] pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over [us]. When [we] walk through the fire, [we] will not be burned; the flames will not set [us] ablaze. For [He] is the Lord, [our] God, the Holy One of Israel, [our] Saviour… since [we] are precious and honoured in [His] sight, and because [He] loves [us]… [we need] not be afraid for He is with [us]…. He is making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

This unwavering faith in God is best illustrated in the life or Horatio G. Spafford, author of the well-known hymn “It is Well With My Soul.” He wrote the words to this hymn following two major crises in his own life –- financial bankruptcy and the loss of his four daughters in a tragic accident. After enduring such horrific losses, Spafford surely had reason to question God. But instead he clung to the promise that God was there -- even when life didn’t make sense -- and penned the following words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.