Why would a loving God let us suffer?

 
 


I am writing a follow-up post on my previous blog, “Is it easier to believe that God does not exist?” to answer a comment from one of my readers who is also a widow.

She says, “OK…I believe. I know God is here along with my husband. I know he loves me. BUT…why would he, if he loves me like a Father, make me hurt the way I do? Why would he let us have this much pain? I know as a Mother I would NEVER, EVER want to cause my child to feel like this. Yeah, it’s not for us to know yet. Or “Everything happens towards good things.” It still hurts. Above you said “He will never force us to do something we don’t want to do.” Well…I sure don’t want to live this life I have now. Why won’t he come and get me too?”

First, I am not going to say something magical in this post that is going to instantly change all of those feelings.  The things she shares are things that everyone who looses a spouse feels.  Even people who have faith in God feel this way at one point.  I know I feel like this too sometimes.

Second, I think these feelings can be echoed by anyone who has experience major hurt.  Trials, loss, pain, and suffering are so hard, and it is human nature to desire an easy way out.  We wish to escape anything unpleasant, even if there is an opportunity for learn and growth…

With grief and loss we all need time to process and to come to acceptance.

 

That takes time…
It takes thought and searching…
And it takes a willingness to change.
None of which happens overnight, but it does happen.
I want to share a story from my past that may help this process…


When my oldest son was little, he was obsessed with flying.  He wanted to fly soooo badly, and he was sure that he could build a contraption to allow him to do it.  He studied about planes and drew designs.  With access to cardboard boxes, 2 liter plastic bottles and tape he built a rocket jet pack.  Proudly he came to me wearing his creation and announce that he needed the ladder so that he could jump off the roof.  I’m sure that I looked at him in total disbelief.  Being very practically minded, I inadvertently squelched his dream of flight, by telling him that his rocket jetpack would not actually function, and that it would not keep him aloft. (Looking back, I probably should have broken the news to him more gently)

Alex was crushed…

 

Not only was he crushed, but he was really angry, and he was angry at me.
He could not even begin to understand why I would not let him realize his dream.
In his young mind, I was all that stood between despair and  happiness.

I share this story because it illustrates perspective…

 
The different perspective of a parent and a child.

 

I do not want to minimize my sons feelings, because they were legitimate and real.  However, as his mother, I had greater understanding and the foresight to know that his plan would not bring him the greatest long-term happiness and would not be best for his longterm health, growth or development.

 

At this point, no amount of calm reasoning would have appealed to his limited understanding of flight dynamics and propulsion.  Alex needed more experience before he was ready to accept that his creation could not fly.  Fortunately he has since arrived at that knowledge and now concedes that his mother did love him when she would not let him jump from the roof.
 
Another story…

My children took a very long time to walk.  They were all over 14 months.  For months I walked hunched over allowing them to grip my fingers as they toddled along.  Eventually it was time for them to let go and learn to walk on their own.   I crouched a few feet from the couch to coax my son into letting go and coming to me.  My young son, in perfect trust and with a big grin on his face, awkwardly teetered into my arms.  Over and over we repeated this scene as I moved further and further away.  On about the 5th attempt, Eric in his anxiousness to get to me led with his head and not with his feet.  Helplessly I watched him fall and his big grin turned into a disbelieving wail.

“How could you let me fall?”  His face seemed to say as he screamed wide eyed at me.  I pulled him into my arms and soothed the hurt.  At first he resisted, feeling that I was to blame, but as I talked to him in an understanding voice his tears soon subsided.  I placed him back at the couch to try again.

How could I do that?
 
 
 
 
As a loving mother, how could I place my child
 in a place where he would definitely be subject
to further hurt and injury?

 

Why did I not just go back to forever holding his hand?

 

Certainly that would be much kinder.

 

He would never have to hurt.

 

But that is not how a loving parent acts.  We warn, we teach, but we cannot shelter or over protect our children.  Sometimes we have to let them fall so they can learn to walk on their own.  Even though we know that they will hurt.  We hurt with them.  We try to comfort them.  We try to show them the easier way, but sometimes we know they just will fall.

 

I want to share something from a widower who has been a mentor to me.  His words shortly after his wife’s death have given me comfort and direction, and I find great wisdom in his counsel.

 

“When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.” – Richard G Scott

I have lived by these words and I can tell you that these are the questions that have…
brought me peace and
brought me understanding and
brought me answers.

He continues saying…

“To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.”

Somedays it would be nice if He would come and get me…

if I could be done with the difficulties and struggles of life…

and someday it will be my time too….

 

But for now His answers are that I still have…

 

more to learn,

 

more to do, and

 

more people to help before I’m through.

 
That takes me back to the name of this blog…

There is a picture I hold in my mind.  When I finally do get back to my husband, I will run and fall into his arms and he will swing me around.  I don’t want him to say,

“You wasted it, all that time we were apart..” Instead I want to hear him say,

“You did it.  This was worth it. It was not for naught.”

Questions to Ponder:

1. How do those two stories about parenting help you understand God’s purposes?

2. What experiences with parenting do you have that help you better understand this principle?

3. What does experience and suffering do for us? What can it teach you?

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