“Why am I in a wheelchair, diabetic, and dying of cancer?” the lady asked pointedly, glaring straight at me. I had just been describing the perfect creation (without any suffering and death) that God declared “very good” at the end of creation week. My heart swelled with compassion at her pain-filled words. The more I talked with this lady the more I realized how bitter and hurting this lady was. She spoke of how lonely she was, prevented from seeing her family for some reason. A church group had told her she needed to go to church and took her to their church for a while, but apparently decided they couldn’t once she needed a wheelchair. Accusatively, she demanded to know why all the injustice and pain. If God is righteous and just, like I said He is, would He punish those who had wronged her?
Questions like this trouble many people deep within. We look around and see so much brokenness – we see pain, loss, and loneliness that often leaves a heart bitterly hardened or hopeless. Like the lady I talked to, we usually want to know why – is this my fault, in some way? Am I a victim? Is God doing this to me? Simply put, I don’t know the answer to the questions this lady asked about why she lives this life. I can’t really say I understand the specific whys of my own life, much less a person I just met hundreds of miles away from home.
Scientists can study the natural world for generations, yet it’s astounding to realize how much we still really don’t understand. There’s a vast depth in the oceans that is still unexplored, and the universe beyond the planet we call home . . . it’s so vast and mysterious that we can hardly comprehend it. There are more questions than answers in science, but many of the basic principles can be easily grasped. Though we may never know the specific reasons for each of the problems we struggle with we can know with certainty that the pain we experience is not a result of God’s original “very good” creation, but part of the consequences of sin. We also know that God will create a new earth that will be very good; free from all sorrow and death, and that He will wipe every tear from our eyes.
One of the things this lady talked about that struck me most was how upset she was about the church that had abandoned her. I’ve often wondered why there is so much corruption and unkindness among the “good” Christians who are supposed to be bringing light and hope into a dark, corrupted world. It’s easy to become bitter or discouraged, but the simple truth of the matter is that my focus is not supposed to be on “fixing” the behavior of my brothers and sisters, but on following Christ. Like Jesus said when Peter asked about the other disciple John, “ . . . If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me” (John 21:22)
When we ask “why” all the corruption and suffering, we must also ask ourselves “why” all the love and grace we have been shown. Life isn’t fair . . . but I sure am glad it isn’t because I don’t deserve any of the love, grace, and life I have. From the air we breathe, to magnetic field surrounding earth, to the placement of our planet in the universe, God continually provides and protects from unknown dangers, and randomly scatters sparkling reflections of His perfect love and beauty all around. After talking with the lady I first mentioned for quite some time, my mental energy was exhausted, and I finally asked, “Want to pet the bearded dragon?” (more about the bearded dragon here) As I knelt beside her with the animal, her hardened frown relaxed into a smile and she cooed gently to the spectacularly created creature. Even the small beautiful things in creation can brighten our life when we chose to notice them.
Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2015