Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 27:1-10; Romans 16:17-27; Psalm 77; Deuteronomy 29-30
About a week before writing this, five teenage girls were killed in a school bus crash a few miles from my home. A few weeks earlier, the mother of three young children at our local school died after a long struggle with cancer. At the same time, a friend of mine is reacting badly to his chemotherapy. What is God doing? Where is he in the midst of all this pain and suffering? Why does he allow all this to happen?
The psalmist expresses similar thoughts when he says, “I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint.” Isn’t God supposed to comfort us in our time of pain and need? Yet the psalmist notes that sometimes thinking about God leads to further pain. We thought God would bring peace and contentment to our lives, yet we still have pain and anguish and death. The psalmist asks what we sometimes wonder, “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
The Bible itself helps us express our doubts and fears, even our anger at God. These thoughts and feelings are okay. The all-knowing God knows we have these thoughts anyway. We must then ask ourselves whether we acknowledge having such questions and feelings. Do we let others know what we are struggling with? Do we allow those around us to express their concerns and fears, to question whether God cares about what we’re going through; to ask whether he is there or not?
But the psalmist doesn’t leave things there. He doesn’t get an answer to why he’s going through what he’s going through. We usually never find out why the crash happened, or why he died, or why she has that problem. But we can know certain things about God and reflect on those. That is where the psalmist turns his thoughts. He remembers the wonders of old. He reflects on the amazing acts of God in the past, both those recorded in the Bible and things that he has experienced. He thinks about God’s ways, the way of life he portrays in the Bible. And he remembers how great our God is—the God who created everything.
That doesn’t answer all our questions. It won’t explain why, or why me. But it reminds us that our God is a good God. He is faithful. He promises to comfort us in the midst of suffering, not remove the suffering. Not yet, anyway.