It is futile to attempt to explain why there is suffering in the world or why God allows suffering and pain.
Whenever such debates occur, both the theologian and the sceptic will go away with their imaginary trophies.
In any case, I don't have the theological credentials to undertake such unprofitable debate.
The stuff is real
No doubt, human suffering is real and can be devastating.
Sometimes, an entire community or a country can be stripped bare, leaving nothing but bony thorns and debris.
When trouble makes landfall like a storm, faith begins to wane and fall apart.
Suffering shakes the belief system and makes people question God or the existence of God.
When this happens, there is almost always a burning crucible underneath. Something slowly chipping away the layers of hope and faith that once existed.
I don't blame anybody in that state of mind.
Living souls and living troubles
It is common to focus on problems and how they make us feel. But we often forget that the only reason those problems are there is because we are alive.
Life qualifies us for challenges. Obstacles are a sign of an intention or desire to move forward. Problems are problems because we desire to live and thrive.
We are conscious of what we lack or what is ailing us because we have life.
This is why the Bible declares:
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6).
God was angry with the grumbling and murmuring Israelites for craving Egyptian cuisines while enjoying His miraculous provisions (Numbers 11:4-6, 18-20, 33).
They were missing Egypt while enjoying God's grace, provision, and protection in the wilderness.
God knows that sometimes we will go through the wilderness. But the wilderness is meant to be the way to our destination. There won't be a wilderness if there's no Promised Land.
This is where we let ourselves fall.
We most certainly can feel and smell the wilderness. But we are not always quick to notice that the way through our wilderness has been paved with God's goodness and mercies.
The man who would not give up
There was a man who had so many troubles but still did fairly well.
His older brothers didn't fancy him that much
He fought wild beasts
He fought giants
His boss hated him and wanted him dead
For years, he was a wanted man
He led a team of the most disadvantaged men in society
His promotion was delayed
He had heartbreaks
He had marital problems
He had scandals
He had a dysfunctional blended family
He lost three sons in his lifetime
He was betrayed by trusted advisors
He had family rebellion
He became a fugitive a second time in old age
I know you heard about him as the guy who killed Goliath. I guess you never thought he had so much mess in his life. David had as much troubles as he had testimonies.
Whatever your own stories are, David is the man to beat.
Defiant and praising
God's goodness is not proven in trouble-free existence. It is proven by the grace that helps us outlive and "out-move" our greatest ills.
Despite that intimidating dossier of life challenges and problems, David still made a remarkable public testimony towards the end of his life.
According to 1 Chron. 29:10-12, David went out praising and rolling in God's awesomeness. David didn't go out cold and sulking. He had realised that God had graciously blessed him, despite all his troubles.
If you can hang on...
David was an all-weather God worshipper. He knew how to submit to God’s sovereignty. He was also adept at attracting God's attention in his lowest moments.
Psalm 51 is a proof of how spiritually resilient the man was, a quality that earned him a place in God's heart.
The good news is that God is more accessible to you than he would have been in David's time.
Your wilderness experience may be different, but God's goodness is consistent and unlimited in reach.
God's goodness is available if you are willing to receive it.
Dear God, help me to trust you through my challenges and troubles, knowing that you are good, and your mercies endure forever. Amen.
Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop in Unsplash