Below this post is my pick-of-the-year from 2008, “Questioning God.” It originally appeared on my blog for Today's Christian Woman. Here's a bit about why I chose it as H-n-T's Pick of 2008.
I had a tough time picking the post of the year for 2008. Should I offer up the most controversial posts (on Prop. 8 and, amusingly to me, on wearing Christian t-shirts) as the best of my best? Or the one that I thought represented my most colorful writing (“Mystery Grab Bag”)? How about the one that got responses that were meaningful to me (“‘Be’ Like Jesus? How Do I ‘Do’ That?”)? Or should I repost a piece about The Secret, which is still getting response a year and a half after I first wrote on the topic?
I decided to offer the post that reveals my greatest struggle: Why does God allow suffering? In 2008, I took a class on this topic and did two research projects on it. I was starting to think I understood it a bit when a friend was struck by a car as she was crossing the street on Christmas. She’s still in ICU, and hasn’t regained feeling in her legs.
Once again I asked, “Why, God?” I couldn’t find any words to encourage my friend. Amazingly, she encouraged me: She greeted me with a bright smile when I entered her hospital room, and she spoke of God’s goodness and grace. Instead of being sorrowful about her condition, she joyfully praised God for sparing her life. She wasn’t even angry with the driver, who’d fled from the scene. Rather, she was grateful that another driver found her on the side of the road—and thankful that God had sent this person her way on Christmas evening, when there were few cars on the road.
I’m glad my friend is finding God’s comfort and love in the midst of her suffering. Her reflections are especially meaningful to me right now, as I go in for further tests on my left eye. Many of you will remember I temporarily lost part of my vision two years ago, and a recent test showed more scarring in my eye. It’s a scary thing to think I might lose my eyesight again. I’m trying to focus on how God provided in the past, and to remember he’s always given me enough grace each day. And I return to this prayer, for both me and my friend in the hospital, that I wrote in “Questioning God”:
God, I have no idea why you’re allowing suffering. Frankly, I don’t trust your plan right now, and I don’t see any good coming from this pain. But I do recognize you’re God: You fully understand the purpose of human suffering. I’m glad I can unload my frustration and confusion on you. Please use these events to teach me and others.
1) When you are going through hardship, do you find it more difficult or more easy to talk to God?
2) Which is a bigger challenge to your faith: when you suffer, or when you see someone else suffering?
3) Write an honest prayer to God with your feelings and questions about suffering.