Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth? Lamentations 3:37-38 (NASB)
December 26, 2004, began like every other day. The sun rose at the precise time it was supposed to as people slept soundly and safely in their beds. Those who had to work rose and prepared for the day, those vacationing began another day of rest and relaxation. Some lay on lounge chairs on the beach while their children played on the shore. Fishermen took their boats out to sea for the catch of the day. Suddenly, the peace of the day was shattered as an earthquake took place beneath the Indian Ocean. 700 miles of earth under the ocean shifted and caused a tsunami to form and barrel its way toward the shore. In an instant, 200,000 people died and the landscape of the country was changed forever.
Where was God?
In 1989 a young wife and mother learned that her husband of several years was committing adultery and intended to leave her for the other women. His abandonment left her deeply in financial debt with two small children and no means to provide for them.
Where was God?
In 2008 a wonderful Mother and Grandmother struggled with failing health. Every day she died a little bit more until there was nothing left but skin and bones. Her family grieved as they watched her disappear before their eyes, her spirit crushed and her hopes for healing and recovery dashed.
Where was God?
In the midst of our personal tragedies, we want to believe that God is absent. I have heard bewildered people look to others with pain-filled eyes and ask how God could have let this happen. They wonder if He left on a break and it was in His absence that their world blew apart. People do not want to believe or think that God is in their hardships.
Some even refuse to believe that God allows bad things into their lives, preferring to cast the blame onto Satan, as though he could triumph over the will of God… We do not like to think that a good God would allow such events that shatter the lives of those we love, so we create a god of our own design. Either that, or we deny there is a God at all.
As Bible-believing Christians we have to look at God as He is, not as we want Him to be. We have to have eyes to see Him through the only means He has given us to know His character, the Bible. To attempt to “know Him” any other way is foolishness because every one of us wants to create a god of our own liking. We want to see God through our circumstances but instead, we must see Him through the lens of Scripture.
It is in the Scriptures that we learn that God is never surprised by events in our lives, He is never absent, and He is always bringing things about in our lives that are for our good and His glory.
These statements may fly in the face of your current difficulties but remember, God is not to be defined by your circumstances or your thoughts about who He is, He is to be understood by His own Word. His Word says He is good (Ps. 145), He is on your side (Rom. 8:31), He is working in your life (Phil. 2:13), He loves you (Jer. 31:3), and He has a good plan for your life (Jer. 29:11)among many other things the Bible says about His working in our lives.
God is also not subject to Satan, and is not impotent before him. Satan is a created being and while he is powerful he is not more powerful than God. In fact, the Lord has Satan on a short leash and he can only do what God allows him to do. Notice his activity in the book of Job; God gives him parameters and despite any desire Satan has on the life of Job, he is limited in power before our Omnipotent God.
It is so vitally important that you understand these truths! If you do not know the character of God from His Word you will be blown around as you go through your trials. You absolutely must understand that God is completely sovereign over every single solitary thing in your life, from the smallest to the greatest detail.
All people experience hardship, grief, and pain. Some experience these things infrequently and others constantly. How God selects us for these things is not known to me and that is just as well. What I have observed, however, is that those Christians God intends for much use undergo much suffering and many trials of various kinds. It is His way of preparing us for service I suppose. What every believer is to glean from the Word is that our suffering has meaning and purpose. Our trials are intentional and designed specifically for us. Nothing happens to us by chance or “bad luck,” God allows only those things that will bring Himself glory and conform us to the image and likeness of Christ.
Where is God in your pain? He is in the midst of it with you, walking with you, talking to you through His Word, He is preaching to you through your pastor, and He is holding you through your friend. God is always near.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:18-19 (NASB)