One evening, a young Bhutanese trainee approached me. I secretly wished he wouldn’t initiate a conversation; I was too tired after a long day of work. But he did and, asking if I love reading, instantly established a common ground. We talked about Mitch Albom, Paulo Coelho, Thomas Friedman’s The Flat World, and Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code which led us to the topic I would rather avoid: religion.
Though I work for a faith-based organization declaring Jesus Christ as the CEO, we are still bound by professionalism not to evangelize. I prayed quickly, “Lord, I’m not an expert in this. Help me know what to say.”
I remembered it’s not about religion but relationship.
I simply shared my faith. Surprisingly, he didn’t contest the existence of God as others before him did.
He mused, “I’ve read that throughout history, people look for God more only during sufferings – wars, famine and disasters.”
“It’s a sad reality.”
“Why are there such troubles in the first place? If God is all-knowing and powerful, why does he let bad things happen even to good people? Think about this: what if He intentionally causes all these so more people will seek and worship Him?”
I knew he meant to make me rethink my convictions. The next morning, preparing the lecture room, I asked, “God, where were you?”
I know that You are good; my breath is not enough to praise You. But I can’t deny that pain and suffering are real.
Where are you when a child in Africa dies of hunger or in a war-torn country; when my best friend’s only sister hung herself at seventeen; or, when a step-father molests an eight year old?
It was a Habakkuk 1:3 moment:
“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong, why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
The answer came to me in 3 points:
1. God didn’t cause pain and suffering.
Remember, when God created Adam and Eve, they were well-provided for in Eden. They needed not to worry about what to eat or wear. Yet, they decided to disobey and sin. God had to bring justice; they were sent out to work for a living. Despite that, God remained compassionate. He gave them clothes. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
2. God has always been with us.
Like eureka, a picture of a man dying on the cross came to mind. His compassion didn’t end inside Eden. It was mankind’s decision to lie, covet and murder, thus deserved death. For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23) Yet He sent Jesus Christ to experience every kind of pain and humiliation. He took the punishment for us all, bearing upon himself all kinds of physical and emotional beating.
Now, do I dare to ask God? He’s there with us in every tear we shed, every pang of hunger we endure and every pain we suffer. The good news is He didn’t suffer for nothing; He suffered and died to save us from the aftermath of our wrongdoings. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (I Peter 2:24)
3. God is not a genie.
Many of us think He is, hoping he’d tell us, “Your wish is my command!” When things don’t go our way, we are disappointed and doubt His goodness. So why won’t He take away pain? Our human brain can’t contain the vastness of God’s wisdom. We aren’t designed to understand or explain His greatness. One thing I know: As fire tests gold, trials tests our character.
Even if our pains don’t go away, do we question God?
Raissa Laurel, a 24-year-old Law student from San Sebastian College, supported the hopeful lawyers last September 2010 Bar Exam, was one of those injured after an explosion.
As a nurse, I cared for emergency patients with multiple injuries. They were all writhing in pain. Raissa was extraordinary. Being transported to the hospital, she sang and praised God. For the past 3 weeks, I complained about a huge pimple at the tip of my nose. It was painful and my self-nursing diagnosis was: Disturbed body image related to impaired skin integrity. But Raissa, legs mangled, sang and praised God!
|Raissa inspiring the youth at Ignite 2011|
She lost both her legs. With a promising career ahead, she had all the reasons to question and blame God. But in her interviews and testimonies, she said: “God saved me from the tragedy… He has greater plans for me than I have for myself.” She believes God has a purpose for everything.
Now, she’s walking again with artificial limbs, inspiring others with her remarkable courage and faith.
My prayer is that God would give me the same heart; that I may trust in His unfailing love and praise Him even if life hurts.