I usually avoid controversial subjects on my site. Not because I don’t have opinions about them, but because this is not a place to debate religion, politics, or ethics. Lately, something in me has been changing and today I was asked the hard questions that, as a Christian mom, I dreaded, because the answer is not so simple.
Yesterday tragedy struck our church. At such a large church, we’ve made so many friends. As I sat nervously waiting to see if it was one of our friends who lost his life, my 9-year-old daughter noticed. Maybe she saw the worried look in my eyes, but she asked and I answered.
She took the news into her heart and, while she didn’t know the man who lost his life, it still broke for her friends at Grace. Then, the questions came.
Why do bad things happen? Why do people we love die? Why does He let us hurt? How can we love and follow someone who lets bad things happen?
Up until that point, I had asked myself this same question over and over. I’d tried hard to understand, but the answers I gave myself always fell short. The answers others gave me never really helped me either. I didn’t know the answer, but I knew I had to answer her. When I did, what came out of my mouth calmed even me. I don’t know if my answers were right, but it was what she needed to hear. It was what I needed to hear.
To my daughter, Ady,
The one thing I wanted to be when I grew up more than anything was a mom, but then I was young I was told I’d probably never be able to have children. You are my miracle.
When I was pregnant with you, I knew that someday your heart would break. I knew you would lose someone you loved. I knew you’d experience pain, disappointment, and maybe even tragedy and suffering. Knowing this, I still wanted to bring you into this world, because I also knew that you would experience deep love and tremendous joy.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)
God is not the creator of suffering or evil. God’s world was good. When He created us, He created us to love. With love you must have choices, because saying “I love you” means nothing if you don’t really, truly choose to love. But we have other choices. He also gave us the choice to hate. By giving us choices, He created the potential for bad things to happen. If we never know bad, how can we choose good?
You will have suffering in the world. (John 16:33 NIV)
Notice that it doesn’t say we “may” have suffering. It says we will. God knew that not all of us would choose love and not all of us would choose Him. Just like I knew you’d hurt sometimes, He knew we’d hurt too. He knew bad things would happen. He knew that we’d experience pain, disappointment, tragedy, and suffering. He did it anyway, because He knew that some of us would choose Him.
Whenever you are hurting, I will always be there for you. I will suffer alongside of you. In those dark times, what keeps me going is the fact that I know you will smile again and you can always come home to me.
When we lose someone we love, those of us left behind hurt, but God will always be there for us. When we experience great pain, God suffers alongside us. He knows though, that someday we will smile again. When a person loses their life, God doesn’t see it that way. To Him, after any pain they experienced on Earth, that person is coming home to Him.
Choosing to trust God isn’t a guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to you or those you love. Choosing to trust God is a guarantee that He will be with us through those things and that after you’ve lived this life on earth, no matter what it brings you, you will have deep love and tremendous joy in heaven for all eternity.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (John 4:8)
You will have many more questions and unfortunately, I won’t have all the answers. I don’t know God’s mind. I don’t know His plan. I will not know the answers to all the why’s you’ll ask. But, as a mother, I do understand this. If God came to me when you were born and said I had a choice. If I wanted, you’d never experience pain. That every time you might get hurt, have your heart broken, or may be suffering, I could step in and stop it. But, if I choose this, I would take away all of your choices and you’d never be able to choose to love. You’d never experience true, deep love. Or, I could take the chance that you’d suffer, hurt, and have heartbreak. And, if I took that chance, God promised me that if you made the right choices, someday you would experience deep love and tremendous joy for all eternity, I would choose to take a chance. Yes, the idea of you suffering keeps me awake some nights, but knowing you will experience love and joy keeps me going. It seems to me that, as a Father, God has made a similar choice and I’m glad he did, because it means I can feel the overwhelming, deep love that I feel for you and experience the tremendous joy of having you in my life.
Of course, I don’t know for sure. I can only guess.
Unfortunately we are not meant to understand. Only to trust. With my whole heart, I hope you choose to trust too.