Last spring my son’s betrothed was killed in a traffic accident. He was 19 and excited about going to college; she was 17, finishing her last year of homeschooling, and looking forward to her summer missions trip with Teen Mania, something she had been doing every year since she was 14. They had planned their future together; they would be married when he finished college, and serve in missions together until the Lord called them home.
This event, as devastating as it was for our family, was not singular, but occurred in the midst of several years of suffering we had been enduring …
For a while there, some devastating news or event poured in at a rate of about one per month, regular as clockwork. We would recover from the shock of one thing, learn to take it to the Lord and lay it down at the foot of the cross, and begin moving from numbness to grief to peace, when another event, like a series of body blows, would hit us.
Where are You, God?
Why is this happening, God?
We asked those questions (some days I still ask them). So did Job and a lot of other people in the Scriptures.
I wasn’t going to discuss what we have been going through here. We are still in the middle of some of it, for one; my children are still finding their way after having been shaken to the core, for two, and these events are intensely personal; and for three, many gifted men have already devoted reams to the subject. But the comment of one of our homeschooling sisters wrung my heart:
“I am so much better but now I’m struggling with bitterness towards former friends who’ve walked out of my life, a church who believed I only had a spiritual problem to work through, and anger towards God for allowing this to happen to me in the first place. When I began reading through Reformed books only to read that God actually ordained for this hell to happen to me and my family, I bagged up the books to get rid of them. And my faith suffered tremendously as a result. … I truly believed nothing bad happened to hs’ing moms.”
I hear you, sister. This is a tough subject, but as this comment shows, we need to talk about it, because it is festering. It is festering in part because of the American Christian mentality exemplified so well in this comment, that if a Christian endures suffering, they are tainted somehow. So when we go through pain, we hide it, so as not to be condemned in our churches. And hiding our suffering adds to the illusion that suffering is not supposed to happen to us. Or, if something horrible happens, then God ordained it.
Is that really what the Scriptures teach? That bad things do not happen to Christians, especially Christians who are a cut above the common Christian because we homeschool? That if bad things do happen — a life is cut short, a child is preyed upon, illness wipes out our future — these things have been planned for us by God? What I found in the Scriptures surprised me, because it was not always the same as I had heard in church, and maybe if we talk about this together, with the Lord’s help we will find peace.
the suffering of fools
temptations, tests, and trials
why does God test man, part one
testing and the education of life
what my cat taught me about testing, and trusting
why does God test man, part two
we are the clay
when we suffer: a warning
help when we hurt
flip the switch
the poetry of drawing near
hearts wounded by suffering
what my thimble taught me
pride: the hidden problem with hardness
portrait of a yielded heart
the poetry of a yielded heart
comfort when we suffer
taking comfort: psalm 42
the poetry of taking comfort
comfort, comfort, o my people
comfort as a mother comforts
a rabbit trail
the joy of intimacy
the poetry of intimacy
God’s comforting presence
why don’t I feel God?
christians and suffering
back from the abyss