“Oh, the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!”
Romans 11:33 (NIV)
One of the most persistent questions we ask when we suffer is “Why?” We can drive ourselves insane trying to figure out the meaning of suffering when it puts its heavy hand on us.
Trying to solve the problem of pain when we are in its grip is like the drowning man ceasing his efforts to get to dry land while he ponders the question of how he got in over his head in the first place.
Please understand me when I say that there is nothing wrong with the question “Why?” Good books like C. S. Lewis’s book The Problem of Pain are highly useful to read when we have time and leisure to sit back and try to think our way through these important and very difficult issues of life.
When we set ourselves to the task of solving the mystery of how a good, loving God could allow suffering in His world, we need to keep in mind our verse for today. It tells us that ultimately we are unable to sort through all of the reasons why God does what He does with His creation.
A better line of thought when seeking answers for our suffering is to ask ourselves—what this problem teaches us about the world around us, what does it teach us about ourselves, and what does it teach us about the God Who made us.
Why we have this difficulty or that problem must be subordinate to the issue of where we go from here. Perhaps you have come through a potentially deadly illness. What did you learn? Well, for one thing you learned that your times are in the hands of a loving Father in heaven. You may plan to do this or that but God may intervene and stop you for reasons He does not give you. This is humbling, and we need to learn this lesson well.
Looking back on the problem—once we have been delivered from it—we may see that all through the difficulty the Good Shepherd was right beside us opening the way for us to follow Him. We may have experienced the practical love of the saints as they came to visit, drop off food, say a comforting word, or read some beautiful passage of Scripture.
Like Job we may never learn why we have suffered. Yet our faith journey teaches us much we need to know about the world, ourselves and God.
Will you entrust yourself to this Good Shepherd? Will you say as He once said, “Not my will but yours be done.”? Trust the Lord when you do not understand Him and in the end you will be thankful you did.