It seems like every time I turn around, someone within my online community has been debating the goodness of God. Is He good or is He not? Does God really love the world, or is He spiteful and vindictive? Because how could a God who claims to be Love allow so many things to go wrong? Why does He stand back as we endure suffering and pain?
I nearly lost my family on Easter Sunday. They were driving home from my grandma’s house when a car came flying across the interstate and nearly crushed the family minivan. Except, somehow, miraculously, it didn’t. And my family is alive. You can bet I was praising Jesus so hard I was weeping when I heard that news.
Last week, my young friend Mackenzie lost her dad to cancer. How can it be that a mere six weeks after I praise Jesus for sparing my father, Mackenzie loses hers? Is it fair? Is it just? Can I call that the work of a loving God? And if I can, would I still be saying the same thing if I had lost half of my family in a horrific car accident and Mackenzie’s dad was miraculously healed of cancer? Would I still believe in a God who loves if everything had been ripped away from me?
I’d like to say I would. In fact, I honestly believe that I could. I honestly feel that, under all the hurt and anger and confusion, I would still hear that still, small voice saying, “Rebekah, my child, I love you.” And I’m 98% convinced that I would believe it. Because I’ve believed it for twenty-one years.
Because I have lost people I love before. And yes, it was hard (and still is hard some days). Yes, I was angry and asked questions that haven’t fully been answered up to ten years later.
But you know what I’ve realized in the midst of the pain? Sometimes Love does things that don’t make sense to the beloved. Sometimes bad things happen so better things can come. Sometimes the losses we experience make room in our hearts for greater joys. And beauty really does come from ashes… eventually.
In case you were wondering, these aren’t the words I would tell Mackenzie, because they aren’t the kind of words that heal so fresh a wound. Because, deep down in her heart of hearts, Mackenzie knows what I know. She knows that God loves her. She knows that everything happens for a reason. But right now, those answers aren’t what she needs to hear.
Maybe the reason that God elects to leave so many questions unanswered is because He knows that what our hearts truly seek isn’t answers after all.
God’s silence in the times that we are hurting isn’t a sign of His indifference; it’s His way of standing alongside us in the midst of a myriad of empty platitudes. Maybe He doesn’t offer answers because He knows what we really desire is to be understood in a world that can only try at understanding. Maybe He holds back the words because He knows that what we truly need is simply to be held amidst the awkward shoulder pats and sympathetic smiles of the people who don’t know how to handle our grief.
Knowing the answers doesn’t take the pain away. It won’t give our loved ones back or miraculously heal our broken hearts. But knowing that God is there to carry us through when we don’t have the strength to carry ourselves… Well, sometimes that’s the only thing that drags me out of bed in the mornings.
So, for now, I’m content to leave my questions unanswered and keep my God close by. Because I choose to believe that Jesus loves me… even when He doesn’t say it out loud.