It’s no secret that we are suffering globally right now. With over two million cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide, we have been commanded to self-quarantine until there’s a vaccine or treatment to stop it.
We’re physically distancing ourselves from our favorite people, avoiding public places, and many of us are financially strained or out of work. To say our world is suffering would be an understatement.
If you’ve ever asked “Why?” during tough times like these, you are not alone. When a natural disaster kills innocent people, it’s easy to ask God “Why?”. Why would God allow people to die from hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes? Why doesn’t God put a stop to this current disease outbreak? Has He turned His back on us?
Recently, I was watching Toy Story 3 with my daughter and it came to the scene where Lotso leaves the toys (Woody, Buzz, etc.) to die in the incinerator at the dump instead of helping them. Before he leaves, Lotso sardonically asks Woody, “Where’s your kid now, Sheriff?”
My mind immediately translated this quote into, “Where’s your God now, Jacob?”
Where is God amidst this current disease outbreak? Has He forgotten about us? Is He punishing us for wrongdoing? Both Christian and Non-Christian Rationalists desire concrete answers to all of their burning questions, but Biblical tradition doesn’t solve those questions. Instead of asking God “Why?” and wondering what YOU or your neighbor did to deserve this pandemic, we should be lamenting.
In an article written by theologian N.T. Wright “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To”, Wright urges us to relinquish our desire for an explanation to our tough questions and lament instead.
“Lament is what happens when people ask, “Why?” and don’t get an answer. It’s where we get to when we move beyond our self-centered worry about our sins and failings and look more broadly at the suffering of the world. It’s bad enough facing a pandemic in New York City or London. What about a crowded refugee camp on a Greek island? What about Gaza? Or South Sudan?” -N.T. Wright
Yes, there’s an undeniable sense of satisfaction when it comes to receiving a direct answer to our questions, but what if we could ask “Why?” without needing an answer? What if we can move beyond our self-centered worry about our sins and failings and instead mourn for the numerous tragic circumstances that our world is facing today?
Count it All Joy
Believe it or not, suffering has a distinct purpose. In the immortal words of Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” She’s not wrong.
Suffering provides restoration, confirmation, and strength. With every trial we go through in life, God is equipping us and making us stronger.
In James 1, we are told to “count it all joy” when we face trials of any kind because our faith will be tested. The testing of our faith produces steadfastness, which will make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
According to Romans 5:1-5, the life of the justified is a mix of peace, hope, suffering, and love.
The glory that is to come will VASTLY outweigh the present suffering. God makes all things new and restores all things. Even though we have to endure the growing pains, creation is growing and God is creating something glorious for His children.
Romans 8:18-22 (ESV) 18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
As Christians, we don’t grieve without HOPE (1 Thessalonians 4:13). When we have an eternal perspective, it makes our current suffering look different. We have hope beyond the present. We don’t have to fall apart when all seems lost because God has a perfect plan for our lives and our future. God understands our pain and suffering. God PROVED that He understands our pain and suffering by sending His one and only son, Jesus, into the world to die on the cross for our sins. Instead of looking for answers to our personal “Why?” questions, let’s mourn for those suffering around the world. While we mourn for the people around us locally and globally, keep in mind that God is present and is restoring all things.
Revelation 21:1-5 (ESV) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,for the former things have passed away.” 5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold,I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
The day is coming where all suffering will cease. God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death. There will be no more mourning, crying, or pain. But until that day, let’s hold on to God and the promises He made us. God is restoring all things and making all things new. Trust Him. Jacob W. Dunne
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