Disappointment and Suffering

We do not know why God allows us to suffer, like the suffering of the prodigal son's father, or a child/adult lost to the faith. Job questioned God about suffering and did not get a satisfactory answer until he accepted that God decided what path the world would take, that His ways are unfathomable, that He is in charge and that we must accept our place: "I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee…therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" (Job 42).

The only thing that we can do is to walk with Him through our suffering and underneath His sheltering canopy. Then when we wait on Him, He will renew our strength, and we shall fly like eagles, and run, and walk, and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). So often these parents have a constant habit of praying and waiting, and have done the best they can in parenting all through. And now those heavy laden, lay down that problem with God, as He suggests they do, for He stills their trembling hearts, and they find rest in Him (Mat 11:28-30).

One can imagine wrapping a problem in beautiful paper, taking that parcel up a ladder to God, and passing that problem over to Him, climbing down, leaving it with Him. We did that with a very ill child and He answered our prayers and our problem, as He thought best. The mental picture helps. But it takes lots of practice and to stop "worrying oneself sick". At first you might only get a few minutes before that problem jumps back in your mind, "driving you witless" again. The lady of Shunem is a fine example of the process, "do not worry, give the problem to (the man of) God" (2 Kings 4). To all those who objected to her confidence, when she was so "vexed" with worry, she said, "It shall be well", "it shall be well". When she came near to the man of God, she said "it is well". She gave up her son to the man of God, and "it was well" for that lady and her family, for her son was restored to them.

However, unlike that Shunem lady (and the prodigal son), even after that closeness with the Lord, and the pray-and-wait, we can be disappointed with His decision. In our grief over a ‘lost’ child we question and question that: "Why have I been burdened with this terrible burden?" "Why is my heart broken, in pieces, and outside my body dragging along?" "I will never recover”. “Is that what life is to be for me now?" "Why is life just going on for everybody else, as if nothing has happened?" Logic is overtaken by emotion and we become self-centred and we say, ‘No one else has suffered like me”. And when praying becomes too hard, and "looking up" is all we can do, God still understands, and even that, too, it seems, even that, is enough. So we say, sit/walk/be where you can see Him. "Go forward with Him, and look up, look up". Eventually God's amazing love guides our steps and our minds back to places that we thought we could not ever go again. He heals our wounds with His balm better than we thought possible, and then the emotional mind catches up with the logical steps in life, and things begin to make more sense again.

We just do not know why suffering and disappointment happen, and anyone who has "lost" a child experiences that, except that we know that God is watching and will help. We do know it is how we manage the grief and suffering that is important to God, and that He watches and holds us, and lifts our arms up, and gradually we surmount the terrible burden, and "it is well" again, like the Shunem lady said. One of the sustaining thoughts to our faith in the grief over a ‘lost’ child, is that God knows best, and that after time, His time (which might be long, even after our deaths), He may see fit to bring back that ‘lost’ child. We may not be there, as was that relieved father of the prodigal, to welcome him home. The lesson in the prodigal son is (and we give the advice too), Never give up hope, while there is life.

Sis Bev Russell (Hurstville, Australia)

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