Personal trials always push us to answer theological questions–to unpack the character of God and to wrestle with the hard facts.
Is suffering the judgement of God? Is it meant for me personally, or is it a corporate judgement? Does God allow it or cause it? Is God testing my faith or is suffering purely random and coincidental?
From what we know in Scripture, it can actually be any number of things. In the OT, we see God often “smite” people with His wrath. Intentional judgement. We also see God “allow” trials for testing, as in the case of Job, a “perfect and upright man”. We see him bring suffering to show forth His glory (John 9), that “the works of God may be made manifest in him”. And often it is a simple law of nature at work in our fallen world that brings disaster and suffering on the just and the unjust alike.
But in all these things, two things are certain: nothing happens outside the sovereign omniscience of God and He works ALL THINGS together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
I can testify to seeing this principle lived out in the lives of many others, and now am seeing it in my own life.
“Were there no tragedies, no handicaps, no opportunities for people to feel compassion and express that in tangible ways, we would become a world full of self-absorption, eaten up with greed and misery.”
All things good. All things new. My family and I have joked about how neat it is to have so many new things. If you haven’t read here long, you probably don’t know that I’m a “thrift store kind of gal”–perhaps to a fault. Part of it is just my nature, part of it is an attempt to be the best steward of our income, and part of it is simply necessity. I’m the girl digging out the last bit of lipstick with a bobby pin and adding water to the last drop of dish detergent for one more use. Suffice it to say, we own (owned) a lot of used stuff, and we’re OK with that.
So while losing all you own is pretty rotten, getting new stuff for a change is pretty fun! There is always beauty for ashes for the children of God.
“It’s like Christmas!” -Brooks, when he received some art supplies.
But the profoundest reality of suffering is what my Dad and I shared together last Sunday.
He commented on the irony of human nature and its response to suffering. Were there no tragedies, no handicaps, no opportunities for people to feel compassion and express that in tangible ways, we would become a world full of self-absorption, eaten up with greed and misery. We would, in reality, self-destruct from our humanness if we lived in a state of safety and constant utopia.
Just as I have lived the irony of feeling gratitude increase in direct proportion to the loss of material possessions, I have seen humanity love largely, give abundantly, sacrifice greatly and care deeply in the face of tragedy where it usually bickers and holds grudges in the calm.
God knows how to run His universe and as my friend Jane, who sheltered the storm with us said, “I’d much rather be with God in the storm, than all alone in comfort.”