Thursday, October 13, 2016


In our beautiful, broken world, at some point most people are confronted with suffering, pain, and injustice to the point where they ask an agonizing question, "Where is God?" It's comforting to recognize that throughout the Scriptures, especially the Psalms, that question is asked again and again. The words may be a bit different but the sentiment is the same. The answers aren't always what we would hope for, and too often it seems there is no answer at all. We are left hanging with our questions and doubts. But the acknowledgment of the question's appropriateness is comforting. On the cross, Jesus asked His Father a related question: "Why have You forsaken Me?" It wasn't the same as "Where are You?" Jesus didn't question the existence, proximity, awareness, or ability of His Father, but He did question the purpose for His horrific circumstances. The mystery of Jesus' full humanity coupled with His full deity are encompassed in His question. As a real man yet without sin, He not only asked "Why?" which is on the edge of a tacit accusation, but also He pleaded to be rescued from the pain and injustice -- "Let this cup pass from Me." Quickly Jesus moved from His question to an affirmation. He immediately expressed His surrender to His Father's will: "Nevertheless not what I will, but Your will be done." What a wonderful example to us! Thereby Jesus signaled permission for us to also ask "Why?" without guilt or shame, and also indicated that it is okay to ask to be saved from suffering. But Jesus also modeled faith and full surrender to God's will no matter how difficult it might be. All that said, earlier this week a retired pastor friend, knowing some of the painful things I had experienced, asked me if I had been able to discern the answer to another question in relationship to the time of pain: "What is God doing?" Reflecting on his question I realized that it was a beautiful statement of faith at the same time it was an acknowledgement of the sometimes mysteriousness of God's providence and its apparent contradiction of God's love, goodness, and power. The more I thought about the question, the more I realized how good it would be to ask that question again and again with regard to all that life serves up to us whether good or "bad" -- "What is God doing?" Awareness that God is always at work in everything and that He is always purposeful and always good -- that awareness can help me to look for His always good purpose and cooperate with it.

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