Often we hear people ask the question, why would a good, loving God allow suffering and bad things to happen?
And when we’re in the midst of trials and suffering, we often wonder the same thing. Why me, and when will this end, or what can I do to wriggle out from underneath this pain?
Winter seasons of life that are painful are not the seasons we want to experience or look forward to walking through. They can be faith-shaking times and cause us to wrestle with our faith. Trials test our faith. Will we draw close to the Lord for strength and sustaining, or will we walk away from the Lord?
I’ve done my share of faltering through trials, and as I’ve leaned into Him for strength, he has provided it through perspective shifts. It all led to a deeper, more complete surrender of my life to Him. I have no doubt His plan is perfect and that He’ll see me through it all.
A few months ago, a curious thought suddenly popped into my head.
What if our view of suffering is different from God’s?
How can a loving God allow heartache and pain?
We ask how a loving God can allow heartache and pain, justify it as just a result of our own sin nature, and allow it to harbor doubt within our souls. But we only see the tapestry from the underside.
God sees all of time, past, present, and future, as overlayed and complete. He sees the tapestry from the top as a finished piece because he is not bound by time as we know it. He knows the tangle of threads and mix-up of colors in the back are needed to produce uniformity and beauty on the top.
God sees the end result.
While we can only feel the pain of the moments we are in, He sees the end result. He sees how our trials and struggles will grow us, mature us, and reach the lost for Him. This makes me think of Ruth and Naomi.
Long before Jesus was born, The Lord had prepared the way through Rahab’s redeemed life and the Battle of Jericho, the famine that drove Elimelech to bring Naomi and his family to Moab, and Ruth to marry one of his sons only to experience the loss of a spouse, so she could meet and marry Boaz through whose line Jesus would be born.
So much struggle, heartache, fear, and anxiety was likely woven into the tapestry of those stories if we were to really know the deep inner thoughts and feelings of the people living out that story. Much like the pain and anxiety we feel walking through our own hard times.
We can trust God’s sovereignty through the bad times.
Yet look what God brought about. There was a third side to that story unbeknownst to them. God knew it was the only way to accomplish His purpose and the story’s meaning to future generations (us!). Not only did that story have an immediate play out in human history but look how we are learning, gleaning, and taking comfort from their story so many years later.
Seeing the third side of the story, the top of the tapestry, brings us great hope. It helps us get our focus off of ourselves and lift our eyes to Jesus. Focused on ourselves, the pain and trials of life will overcome us, and we’ll begin to sink, like Peter. But lifting our eyes to focus on Jesus allows us to consider His overarching plan for humankind. Once it’s not all about us, we are able to detach ourselves from the hard situations and find comfort as we walk on the stormy waters.
Our trials have eternal value.
Truthfully, our trials have way more eternal value than we realize, both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us and those to come. We can trust God’s sovereignty through the bad times.
Why does a good God allow pain and suffering?
Well, maybe it’s because He doesn’t see things the way we do, and He knows the eternal value of the hard things we go through. After all, His purposes always produce salvation. He even experienced His own son dying on the cross and suffered that separation himself so that humankind could spend eternity with him.
Our loving God went through unimaginable pain so that we could be with him forever.
As we approach Easter, may we see our trials and suffering in a different light. It is my prayer that you find comfort in a different perspective.
Perspective changes everything.