Sometimes I catch myself looking back at the “glory days” when I see a picture of my younger self; the vibrant, refreshed me who was clearly sleeping through the night and regularly getting her hair done. The pre-kids, pre-full time job, mid-20’s version of myself who went trail running and exercised with leisure, for pleasure and . . . every day. Life just looked a lot different—and so did I.
Is it true? Can I expect God to heal me? Should we expect him to solve our dilemmas? To fix broken circumstances? To mend fractured relationships? And what does it mean for us when our hurts persist?
When something horrible happens, something that seems unfair or unexplainable, we grasp for meaning in our suffering. More than that we try to reconcile our experience with our conception of God. The problem is, if we don’t trust His character first and foremost over what we are able to see, we will demand that in all of our trials, He answer to us. This is sin.
When I really think about it, the reason I want 2015 to end is that I think I deserve better. I am a pretty nice person. My husband and I both work for our church. We love our families. We recycle. We deserve to be happy. We deserve to have more kids. We deserve to live until we are old and die together holding hands . . . right?
The night he died it stormed. My wife and I were restless, weeping, and holding each other closely. I remember pleading with God in my distress, “Why didn’t you send these rains just a few hours earlier? He wouldn’t have been outside! This nightmare never would have happened! Why did you allow it to happen this way, God?!”
My unchangeable circumstances made my cries feel hollow.
This summer, the brothers and sisters of my congregation have gone through an unusual amount of physical suffering. Cancer, heart attack, strokes, sickle cell and death aggressively reared their truculent heads. One Sunday burdened by these ailments, the congregation joined hands across the aisle and bombarded heaven with desperate pleas of healing for particular individuals who were in digressing situations. Within two weeks, two people had died and a third was declared to be unrecoverable. It wasn’t long after that when a member asked me a sincere and relevant question: Should we have prayed for healing with so much boldness?