I used to ask God "Why?" a lot. Why me? Why not her/him/them? Why now? Why not? I'm sure God got tired of hearing me whine about the unfairness of life. Hey, I get tired of hearing my children whine about it.
My husband and I always struggled with infertility. About 6 months after we were married we started trying to have our first child. It didn't happen right away. In fact it took over 3 years. During that time we saw in the news mothers who did very bad things to their children, even to death. We also saw people in our lives that we thought didn't deserve to have children as much as we did. You know what I mean, we were a great, God-fearing, stable, non-alcoholic, non-smoking, healthy couple who desperately wanted a family, and there were all these people that weren't any of those things who were having children. And the Whys flew from our hearts and mouths heavenward. Well, God answered me. And I've never forgotten.
We had not-so-close family members that had a 9 month old baby when they found out another was on the way. They weren't by our standards a couple that we thought deserved a baby as much as we did. I tell you, we had been trying for 3 years and our lives were ravaged by the desperation of infertility. Month after month I just wished that God would take me out of the misery one way or another. When their baby was born, in my pain and anger toward our circumstance and God, I was unable to celebrate her life. I had an opportunity to meet this precious little girl when she was one month old, I held her for just a few seconds and passed her back to her mother and never looked at her again.
Two weeks later that baby girl died. She contracted viral pneumonia and a short seven hours later she was gone. Her parents never even knew she was sick. We went to her funeral and I watched her parents be nearly crushed by their grief, the weight of which I hope I never know. No matter what I thought of them as parents, they certainly didn't deserve this. I will never forget the image I have of them clinging to each other, physically supporting each other, sobbing as they followed the casket of their six week old daughter out of the funeral home.
Right there, in that place, in that moment God spoke the truth into my heart. "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45b) There is no one who deserves God's blessings. His blessings come from His hand, by His love, through His power, for His glory. He does not withhold His blessings based on what we deserve. If that were the case, no one would ever be blessed because we all deserve death. Similarly, God does not send suffering only to those who deserve it. Suffering also comes from His hand, by His love, through His power, for His glory. If suffering only came to those who deserved it, we would all soon become believers, but only out of a desire to end our suffering, not out of true repentance and love for the God who created us to love Him.
It seems to me that there is more and more suffering going on these days. I see it all around me, in my family, in my friends' lives, in our nation and world. And I no longer ask "Why?" Suffering happens. It happens to the righteous and the unrighteous. It is, like blessings, a part of life. Dare I say, life is fair? We all get the rain and the sun. That's fair. We don't all get the same amount, so it's not always equal. But, it is fair.
When my poor whining children (of which I now have 5!) tell me about how unfair life is, I just smile and say, "Life IS fair, it's just not equal!" And I pray that someday they understand.
Suffering - part 1