The other day, I saw my toddler throw an epic fit: on the floor, legs kicking, crocodile tears streaming, and a surprising utterance came out of her mouth as she cried: “why?” Her cries literally sounded like she was saying “why” over and over and over again. It stunned me, because it so clearly exemplified the expression of our hearts in suffering: “why, God?”
It’s such an important question to wrestle with. In the quintessential Biblical message on suffering in the book of Job, he asks the question in multiple ways. “Why, God?” And as we know, God never answered it. And Job came away satisfied in the end. And that reality sits with us in a pit-in-your-stomach uncomfortable way.
We all ask it in times of trials. Few of us ever actually get an answer to it, try though we may.
We ask it because it feels like somehow if we could get the answer to it, if we could see the meaning and purpose of the trial, it would make it more tolerable, somehow easier to endure. But God so rarely gives us an answer.
It is a reality I am reckoning with in new ways.
You see, there is a true injustice to suffering. Sometimes people, like Nightbirdie, get cancer three times over. Sometimes people can’t have children. Sometimes your child dies. The worst case scenario really does happen sometimes, to people who have already endured so much. It isn’t fair! It isn’t right! Some people seem to get such a small share of suffering while others seem to be dogged by it their whole lives. Some children are born into good healthy families. Some children suffer tremendous abuse at the hands of those meant to tenderly care for them. It isn’t fair, it isn’t right, it isn’t okay.
I think sometimes we Christians (myself included) are so quick to rush to the “trust God” in our suffering, that we glance over the injustice in it. This isn’t the way things are supposed to be. This world ISN’T Gods best for us. We live in a fallen broken cursed world. We should expect it to be unfair.
I think if we had this expectation more, we wouldn’t become so surprised when we encounter various trials in our life. We would find ourselves rather ready to face them because we are expecting them to come, in all its ugly unfairness. And we wouldn’t get so angry at God when bad things happen, because we would know that bad things happen because the world we live in is broken. Could He fix those bad things? Yes. But He has to fix the entire world to really do it. Because He might heal Sally but leave Joe in his state if suffering, and only He has His reasons for that. That leaves a bitter taste in our mouths because it reminds us that He hasn’t resolved all the brokenness and suffering of our world yet.
But guess what? The plan for the redemption of the whole works is already in motion! It’s redemption is guaranteed by Jesus Christ coming into the world, enduring the truest form of injustice as He bore the sin and evil of our world on Himself even though He is the only human being who didn’t sin, didn’t deserve it at all, shouldn’t have had to bear the consequences of our generational sin. God is working to fix the brokenness of our world, He’s told us as much, and we can trust Him to finish what He started.
This bigger reality, this redemption plan in motion, this is our hope for the injustice in our suffering. It’s all going to be fixed some day soon. All of it. Completely. No one who trusts Jesus will be left out from that redemption. That is a hope that only has meaning when we have taken the time to really reckon with the fact that suffering only makes sense in the kind of broken, fallen, cursed world we live in.
So whatever your sorrows, however God responds to your cries for deliverance, know that the truest deliverance is still coming. You can bank on that.