“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 ESV
“Be careful letting the devil in for tea because the next thing you know, he’ll stay for breakfast, lunch, dinner and move in.” Unknown
When life feels like a maze, God gets the blame. When there are so many questions, it’s God’s fault. Disasters happen, well, God allowed it. When a loved one dies, it was God’s will. When children are abandoned or abused, where is God? When heartaches happen, God is punishing you. When financial ruin comes, well, God has a plan.
God didn’t do this.
I get it! When my husband suffered from Lewy Body Dementia for over two years, anger at God that he allows suffering was top of mind and heart. When he died, even more anger, isolation and big resentment. Looking at my childhood and adolescence, grief and shame, you know those black sheep/scapegoat experiences? I couldn’t grasp that I’m God’s beloved. I can barely do it now.
Sometimes we blame God to dodge responsibility. Sometimes we blame him out of ignorance. Sometimes to get instant relief from unrelenting pain and grief. Sometimes we treat God as a vending machine. But most of the time life’s tribulations are unclear. Jesus warned us that we would have tribulation. He warned us to count the cost. The world is full of obstacles, dangers and devastation. But most of the time, it’s the Liar, Murderer and disguised Angel of Light taking advantage. Faith is tested.
Jesus told Peter that Satan asked to sift Peter like wheat. Satan afflicted Paul with an illness that would not go away. Eve was tempted by Satan in the garden. Job was afflicted unmercifully by Satan and we know Satan threw his very worst at Jesus. That’s why we are instructed to put on the full armor of God and to draw close to him. We can’t overcome by ourselves. We can tell our father everything that’s in our mind in heart and that eventually, he will cause all things to work for good because we love him and work according to his purpose. In the meantime, our understanding is so limited. We see in a mirror darkly.
The good news. He has overcome for us. God does provide others that have been through the “valley” to help us, encourage us, love us and lift us. God doesn’t set us up, tease us, abandon us. We know who does.
Thank you for the Psalms that richly describe all our sorrows, anger, frustrations and questions. The Psalms always end with praise. The Psalms always carry hope. But the writers were people just like us, flawed, confused and scared.
Help us to move through life with hope and praise, even when we don’t understand, especially when we don’t understand. Help us to accept with grace that some things are a heavenly mystery that some day we will know fully.