Sad things have been on my mind. A high school friend said goodbye to his wife after her long battle with cancer, and someone else I knew died suddenly, shockingly. Mental Health Month was wrapping up, so I was thinking about people I know who struggle daily. Then there were the children and adults in Uvalde. Plus it was Memorial Day weekend, and I saw photos of people I knew who sacrificed their lives for their country.
I’m sure you have your own list of people who are suffering through other struggles, whether illness or financial uncertainty or isolation or addiction. We all have heavy hearts when we see people (or when we ourselves) are dealing with so much sadness, so much grief, so much brokenness.
God did not create this world to be a place of hurt and pain and death. That’s why all the hard things feel so foreign; that’s why we cry, mourn, weep, and wail. So what do we do with this doesn’t-seem-to-be-getting-better world? I don’t really have answers, but I do have examples of people from the Bible who asked God hard and heartfelt questions.
King David, a man who lived thousands of years ago and was called a man after God’s own heart, asked God about his personal and work struggles: “Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me?” (Psalm 13:1,2 HCSB).
A prophet named Habakkuk (don’t even worry about how to pronounce it) asked about all the troubles in his community: “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds” (1:2,3).
It would have been super easy just to pour out their questions and hope God would offer his reasons for allowing hard, horrible events to occur. Instead, these men also reminded themselves of what they knew to be true.
King David ended his prayer by saying, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5,6).
For Habakkuk, the reality was that things might never get better in this world. But he concluded, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (3:17-19).
I took their lead and wrote out some questions in my prayer journal, ending them with, “I don’t understand, which is actually good. If everything you do and allow made sense to me, then I would think I’m smart enough to be God. Obviously, I’m not. So while I may not understand, I believe you. I go back to what you said and did in the past, and I trust. P.S. Thanks for being okay with the questions.”
So what do we do with this doesn’t-seem-to-be-getting-better world? Today seems like a good day to ask our questions and state his truth, to pour out our hearts and proclaim his praise.
P.S. As a tangent, because I want to include this but it didn’t really fit in the post above . . . Jesus went to visit his friends Mary and Martha four days after their brother, Lazarus, died. When he went to the tomb, he cried. You know what’s amazing to me? He mourned his friend’s death even though he knew that in just a minute he would tell Lazarus to walk out of that grave. For people who believe in Jesus, we can cry too, even though we know one day Jesus will raise us all from the dead and give us a new world where there is no sadness, crying, pain, or mourning.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who knows her first paragraph was pretty depressing, and she’s thankful you read to the end.