“Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” cries the psalmist (Psalm 10:1, NIV 2011). Do these words echo how you are feeling? God does not discourage us from voicing such cries to him; in fact, He inspired it in His Word.
In my previous article (MM July P24), we looked at the logical problem of evil and found that the Christian worldview has a sound response to this intellectual matter. Nevertheless, we all still face hardships, so is there more that Christianity can offer when we hurt?
Some Biblical guidance
The Bible tells us that in the beginning God, who is good, made everything good (Genesis 1-2); a reminder that the troubles in this world are not from our loving Father but due to humanity’s sinful choices (Genesis 3). Nevertheless, in the end we are assured that God will set things right: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In the meantime, God has not left us alone. In fact, He Himself has borne on the cross the worst of our suffering, which is our sin. The Christian God is Immanuel (God with us), seen in the Incarnation, in which Jesus entered into the pains of this world and overcame it by suffering for us. And, furthermore, while Jesus goes to prepare a place for us so that we might be with Him forever, He has sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us and to be with and in us each step of the way.
Consider the apostle Paul, who was able to joyously conclude, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Paul was not an individual who had an “easy life.” For the sake of Christ he had been imprisoned, flogged, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, persecuted, and starved, just to mention a few of his hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23-29), and yet he could declare that these were “light and momentary troubles” (2 Corinthians 4:17) compared to the hope of eternity.
While we may not always know why God allows us to experience a particular hardship, we can be assured that it is God Himself who comforts us, so that we can bring His comfort to others. Consequently, let us make it our aim to count it joy, whenever we face various kinds of trials, knowing that the Lord will use it for His glory.
The personal problem of evil we all face then should not be a reason for one to turn away from God, but rather a reason to turn towards Him.
May we all, like the psalmist who questioned God’s whereabouts during “times of trouble”, learn to confidently declare that “You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry” (Psalm 10:17, NIV 2011).
David Jonathan Graieg is a Masters of Theology graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary (2012). He served as an adjunct lecturer at East Asia School of Theology and used to attend Wesley Methodist Church. He currently serves with City Bible Forum in Australia. David is happily married to Grace, and they have three young children: Sophie, Charlotte, and Elizabeth.