The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help. But God charges no one with wrongdoing. (Job 24:12, NIV)
God, are You there?
It’s easy to understand why some people give up the faith. The claim of an all-powerful God in light of what we see in the world? People massacred? Diseases everywhere? Right now, you can’t hear the sound of a sneeze and be comfortable.
There is a lot of evil in the world. And we claim there is a God who specializes in fixing these things.
But where is He?
Don’t even get me started on the pastors and others who are in charge of the flock. There is increasing manipulation of the poor and the weak. Some men of God have ill-gotten wealth. Where is the swift justice we so often read about in His word? Where is the God of Elijah, who rained down fire on the prophets of Baal? And in the same afternoon!
Where is this God that couldn’t keep that young girl from rape?
Why didn’t He keep that woman from having a miscarriage?
I see these questions every day, and I wish I could have an answer that would make sense. Christians are constantly put on the spot. People ask these questions point-blank. They demand a reasonable response. Explain your God! But what’s there to say? How do we defend God?
God, you have to do something!
I won’t pretend. I wonder sometimes why some of these things go unchecked. Shouldn’t God just snap His fingers and adjust everything?
But how can I logically explain a God whose nature defies human logic?
A poor defense that holds no water
Who can be God’s advocate?
We present our arguments when people ask questions. And people do ask a lot of questions.
I have learned to do one thing when I’m asked a question I don’t understand. It’s an answer anyone can give: silence.
I know people are desperate for answers when faced with a crisis. It’s expected. But why rush to give a hasty defense without thought or prayer? Why make matters worse for the grieving parents? Why make them feel like they didn’t pray enough? Why make them feel like they didn’t love their child enough? Why not be silent and mourn with them instead?
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15, NIV)
Defending things we do not understand causes more confusion for the person asking. And, even worse, they could turn their backs on the gospel.
For example, I’ll touch on a very sensitive topic: September 11.
That was a catastrophic event that some are still struggling to heal from. It affected people of different beliefs. But I heard a story about something that happened to a Christian that day.
The man was around one of the towers right before the first plane hit. He said the Holy Spirit told him to run, and he started running away. He got to safety before the terror began.
What can we say to something like this? Was that man a better Christian than those who perished? Did God love him more than the others? I know we don’t like to think about these things. But these are real questions demanding real answers.
You see, each individual is different. You have your relationship with God, and I have mine. I can’t presume to know what it feels like to experience some things. You have deep questions about some of your experiences that would make no sense to me. And vice versa.
But the hard truth is that some questions will never get answered. For example, did every single Christian out there get a silent alarm from heaven? What if they got it but didn’t heed?
I don’t have the answer you’re looking for. But…
Self-discovery, rather than Bible-thumping
Some answers will only come through self-discovery. Not everything will come from a sermon. And even if it did, not every answer would be accepted.
But I can guarantee that your relationship with God will produce the answers you’re looking for. There are things that have happened to me that I deliberately spent time praying against. For some, I fasted and prayed for weeks, but it still happened.
What kind of explanation does anyone want to give that would make sense? At those times, I asked questions that I’ll never ask from the pulpit. Wasn’t that the situation with Job’s friends? Job was in a crisis that was tearing him apart. But his friends were trying to defend God’s honor by putting Job further into the ground. Yet, who got vindicated in the end? Your guess is as good as mine.
God loves it when you’re real with Him. With God, it’s not about what’s proper tradition. He’s not concerned about what the pastor would say. With God, there’s no such thing as a foolish question.
The same questions that people like David and Job asked are the same questions we ask today. The only problem is that we do not wait long enough to get a response.
We ask questions, but we use those unanswered questions as a case for unbelief. We justify our backslidings. Why don’t we take David’s approach?
When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (Psalm 73:16 -17, NIV)
David had the same questions. He saw unbelievers prospering. He saw wicked people in positions of influence. When he tried to think about it, it didn’t make sense to him. But when he entered God’s sanctuary, there was clarity.
How do you explain these?
This is why he raped you.
You became an orphan for this reason.
This is why you lost your job.
This is why you can’t afford the rent.
Who would you like to put the blame on? God? The hurting?
Then the silent God would speak
Sometimes, I have questions that would make people ask if I’m still a Christian. Sometimes I get angry at God when things happen that I don’t understand. But experience has taught me something about handling these situations.
- God will speak.
- Exercise patience.
Who is this that obscures My plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. (Job 38:2–3, NIV)
What, really, was the patience of Job all about? What was Job waiting for? Was he waiting for God to restore his wealth? Was he waiting for God to raise his children to life?
Patience always has a goal. You exercise patience while waiting for something. So what was Job waiting for?
Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat my desperate words as wind? (Job 6:24 -26, NIV)
Job only needed to understand why he experienced what he experienced. He wasn’t waiting for restoration. We read the book as though the goal was the multiplication of his wealth. He had no hope of getting back everything he lost. He had no idea God had that in mind. He was waiting to die. He was waiting for God to finish him off.
All he needed was someone to tell him that this wasn’t his fault. He needed someone to tell him that he didn’t deserve it. But when the silent God speaks, He speaks from the depth of who He is. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. He tells you what you need to hear. And what you need to hear is sometimes difficult to accept.
That’s why self-discovery is a beautiful experience. If you travel the path far enough, you’ll find healing. Healing for things you didn’t even know were broken.
In the beginning, your words may bounce off the walls. Your cries may be a distant echo. But be silent with Him. Walk with Him as you both explore the paths of life that brought you to where you are.
Eventually, He will speak. Soon enough, life will have meaning again.
I know things may not make sense now, but you’ll arrive at a conclusion. A beautiful conclusion that only those who stay long enough in Him after a crisis ever reach.
It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees. (Psalms 119:71, NIV)