Murders, estrangement, financial ruin, marital problems, rebellious children, illness, false accusations, religious persecution–all viable reasons for bitterness and faithlessness.
But without faith–what do we have?
How do we face the day when a loved one is seriously ill? When someone dies? When we are emotionally scarred by the very ones we are supposed to trust?
Where is God in the suffering?
For those who have suffered greatly–whether through illness, finances, as consequence for their actions, or through unjustifiable actions from others–how do we go on to meet the new day?
At times, we feel God’s presence in every step, every movement, every breath and other times, it is as if we are like parched, cracked earth, straining for a drop of moisture to quench our thirst. The periods of dry, desolation often seem much longer than the lush pastures of His companionship–but are they really?
When difficult periods face us–where is God? Is He there? Is He present in our suffering?
Throughout my own personal desert when I have called out to God as I lay prostrate before the Cross and heard nothing but the echoing of my own sobs, I can honestly say “yes.” He is there and quite present before me.
Has the suffering abated? No. In fact, in many ways it has increased. However, I am beginning to notice more of His presence in each tiny, precious moment.
As the piercing sun cracks through the dark of night to reveal a new morning, I feel Him. As the birds begin to rise and chirp their greetings, I know that this same God who feeds them, also cares for me. As my husband brings me a steaming cup of coffee with whipped cream, I know that God is working in Him to demonstrate His love and devotion. As my grandchildren smile when they see my face, I know that I am seeing the face of Jesus within them.
Every kindness. Every drop of rain. Every ray of sunshine. Every morsel of food. Every beam of light radiating between the leaves of the Black Walnut trees in our yard. Every kind gesture and sweet smile from a friend or stranger reminds me that Our Lord has not forgotten us. No, never! As discouraged as I get and as I struggle to understand His purpose for our suffering, I know He is ever present in my daily life.
As more is stripped, the more appreciative I am of what we have. No matter how long He allows the suffering to continue, I know that we will always be rich in Him. As I forgive others for their injustices, I make more room for His light to shine through me.
For I know wealthy people who are so very poor because they do not care to know Him. And I know poor people who are so very wealthy because He resides in their hearts and they know that all is gift.
Who could imaging that suffering could be gift?
Because of my profound selfishness, I think I needed this suffering. Perhaps it was God’s rescue upon my soul. For without it, I would not be as rich as I am today–for if He resides within me and guides my life, I know that I will never be poor in spirit.
Perhaps that is the greatest lesson of all.