A couple of weekends ago in Austin a bunch of churches talked through the question of what we do with suffering and pain: where is God when bad things happen?
This post (written by a partner in the Gospel and someone I respect a lot) has been shared about a million times, so it got my attention.
I have sort of a girl crush on Jen Hatmaker. I love her writing and her passion for people and seeing our city redeemed. I LOVE her humor. And I love the message that I think she shares which is: give grace to hurting people.
After my father died, I learned first hand that sometimes hurting people speak words for the wind. They don’t need to be ‘gospeled’ as if grief is a sign of unbelief.
I understand Jen’s heart I think: hitting hurting people isn’t the way of Jesus.
But it’s important to clarify:
God’s sovereignty is not bad news.
In one of my favorite shows there is this line: Marriage is like Music. Just because some musicians are bad, it is still good.
That’s how I feel about truth. Bad delivery is not the same as a bad message. Just because not all of us are the best at articulating God’s Word, it doesn’t mean that His Word is the problem.
God forbid we throw out the comfort prescribed in the Word because we don’t like the way people present it.
God’s ways are mysterious. His purposes are above ours and there are depths to His knowledge and wisdom that we could never dream to comprehend. But He is also a God who has chosen to reveal certain things about Himself and one of those things is His feelings and involvement in suffering.
God weeps when we weep and God is in control.
He is near to the broken-hearted and He is sovereign over any suffering that comes your way, (Dan 4:34-35, Isaiah 45:7, Lamentations 3:37-38, Job 1:20, Job 42:11, Job 1:16).
Jesus wept with Mary, but that’s not all He did on that tragic weekend.
He also reminded Martha of the resurrection.
He explained to His disciples that He had stayed away from Lazarus particularly because He wanted to grow their faith.
He took action steps that resulted in increasing the momentary suffering of His dear friends, and even Himself, because He had a higher cause. And I know that sounds hard and like a God you may not want to worship, but it is the God we have. And He is the only One worthy of worship.
Guys, God is in control and that is not bad news. Because who better than Him to steward this world? He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him and He is working all things out for His glory. His purposes are planned and executed with infinite knowledge and perfect wisdom.
He is stewarding your life in love; He is doing whatever it takes to give you Himself.
I’m not embarrassed to worship a God who is on His throne.
I’m not ashamed to tell a hurting person that God – the only truly good and kind one – rules over their pain.
I will speak those words to hurting people – not because I’m cruel and heartless, but because I think God’s sovereignty is a solid rock to cling to when the storms of life crash against you.
This truth has kept me alive.
With every decision I make I hear the whisper of doubt that one wrong turn will jeopardize the course that God has planned for me. I silence those fears by shifting my weight into the strong and solid foundation of God’s sovereignty beneath the promise of Romans 8:28.
On the day I hugged my dying father and said goodbye, I drove to the airport bombarded by the lies that both our lives were being tossed around by the whim of fate. And the strong comfort in my soul has been the Spirit whispering: rest your heart in the sovereignty of God.
I have experienced moments of such darkness that death seemed the only way to find hope. I have felt the grasping panic that comes from waking up in a world that you never dreamed would be your existence and facing the fear that you have ruined your life.
And by sitting at the foot of the Cross I have faced down the heresy that sin or satan or fate can somehow trump the will of my God. Can there be a more final proof of who rules?
While sinful men and satan scrambled, my God reigned and delivered me once and for all from sin and death.
I’m not sure there is any better news in the face of suffering than the news of that our King is both good and sovereign.