Last Wednesday I had a heart-felt conversation with one of our church members. She felt angry with God because a young friend of hers suddenly became a widow. It seemed so unjust because her friend had two small children, is a worship leader and lives a good God-centered life.
All I could do to comfort her was to draw on my own experience living as a widow these past thirteen years. I lost my sweet husband, our home, our dogs had to be given away and we went without hot water or heat for two years. My net worth once was one dollar and a frozen chicken. And, my – was I an emotional mess. I knew what hitting bottom felt like, but I also knew God’s grace through it all.
In all my pondering, I still don’t understand why people suffer. But I know Jesus suffered greatly to secure an eternal inheritance for us. Scripture says Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died, even though he knew he was going to raise him from the dead. He didn’t cry – he wept. That speaks volumes about our Lord’s compassion. He sweat tears of blood contemplating his crucifixion. He knew suffering. Jesus said: “blessed are the sorrowing, they will be comforted.” And we are. God himself breaks our heart when we lose someone dear, then he rebuilds it and plants his seeds of compassion.
From a personal standpoint, I know my heart changed dramatically in light of profound loss. I no longer see the importance of material things even though I thoroughly enjoy them when God provides them. I have drawn nearer to God than I would ever thought possible. I lean on him for everything and he blesses my life with his powerful presence – and I don’t say that lightly. My son understands life as temporary, material things as passing and he is one of the most compassionate people I know. Those are not attitudes that I could teach nor money buy.
I have scoured the Bible for answers and the ultimate bottom line is trusting God with our whole mind, heart and soul. We don’t have to understand because God’s reasons are beyond human understanding. All we have to do is accept his will and believe in his promises. The end result is eternal life with the ones we love. Everything else is passing away. We just have to choose our response to adversity and in time we will see the fruit of such a decision.
Through scripture study and prayer we learn we can trust God’s character, not our own understanding. We are finite, made eternal through our belief in him. That’s why faith matters, why our losses matter, why the Son of God gave his life here on earth. All our adversities are life lessons on how we can depend on God’s gracious love and eternal commitment to each one of us.
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”