I’ve never questioned God’s existence—too many divine encounters have occurred in my life to undermine my belief in God.
But this week has knocked me off-center a bit.
Six months ago a woman in my small group community died of breast cancer. She was in her late forties and left behind an adoring husband, three beautiful daughters, and one granddaughter. The recovery from the jolt has been hard on everyone–especially the family.
Then Tuesday, the oldest daughter—only 20 years old—died unexpectedly. She left behind a three year old daughter and a devastated family.
Tuesday morning walking down the hospital corridors toward the young girl’s room, I looked up and blurted, “God, are you kidding me?!?”
Where Is God In Your Grief?
Dealing with hard news like this isn’t easy for anyone. And growing bitter against God is understandable. I’ve long believed that the challenge in moments like these is to hold three characteristics of God in tension:
- God is all-powerful
- God is all-wise
- God is good
If one of the above statements is false, then God is off the hook—except for the “good” part. What if God isn’t good? What if he allows bad things to happen to good people for no good reason? At the moment I’m wrestling with the goodness of God—yet deep inside I also know that he only works good in the lives of the people who love him.
Here’s how I’m processing through the tragedy of this week.
I was a pretty cute kid!
You can tell I’m riding a horse, so I must be living on a farm
You may even extrapolate that I’m a country boy, to quote the late John Denver song.
Actually, I was living in urban Denver at the time. A man was going door-to-door through our neighbor offering to take photographs of children sitting on his pony, for a price of course.
That photo is snapshot of one moment in my life—and a far cry of what I’m really like. But if that was the only way you knew me, it would give you a false sense of who I really am.
In the same way, every moment is a snapshot of God’s interaction with us. But all of us know that a single snapshot cannot define a person. And one snapshot cannot define the totality of God’s character. A photo album does a much better job of expressing the person’s life. Yet still, photo albums have limitations. Perhaps significant photos are missing. And how can we still know what the person is really like inside?
This is a start, but I’m interested in reading your thoughts.
(Please keep the family in your prayers. The memorial service is Saturday morning.)
Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.