I’m going to be totally honest with you, I had no idea what to write here. This was originally meant to be a post about God and suffering (more on that later) and then it was going to be a post about following God and being His people and then *that* got trashed, restarted, trashed again, restored, and on and on. I lacked inspiration for a post, lacked the push that would start me writing.
The way it started was on Sunday at 8:30 am when a message came through on my family’s WhatsApp group while I was at a LAN. A cousin of mine had fallen from a second floor balcony onto concrete below, cracking his skull and bleeding on the brain. Now we weren’t all that close, having only seen each other a handful of times throughout my life. But this guy was one of the nicest people you could meet. Always smiling, always happy. Looking at him, you’d say that they didn’t deserve what happened to them. So I started to ask myself more seriously “How do we worship a God who allows these kind of awful things to happen?” And being the witty jackass I am, my instant response to myself was “With arms high and heart abandoned”. I was not off to a good start.
So the question of suffering, of pain, had been circling in my mind for a while and I sat staring at a blank draft for a while before I got frustrated and played some video games. In hindsight, maybe some prayer or Bible reading should have been my course of action but, as you’ll see now, God’s timing is perfect. I eventually gave up on the idea of writing about pain and suffering and how God can allow that and pushed it out of my mind. Until just a few short hours ago.
I was asked by my minister to assist the church in facilitating a computer skills test for a new position at the church which I happily agreed to do. While the applicants were taking their test, I was rummaging through the ministers bookshelf when I came across a particular book: Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey. With a renewed passion for the subject, I eagerly started to read, hoping to find answers to my questions. I did not get very far in the book before I had to stop myself from reading more. The stories of people with leprosy and other horrible ailments broke my heart. As I sat in my ministers office, I was so conflicted about following a God who allowed this. I was asking over and over “God where are you in these awful times? What are you doing?” and just sat there for ages. I put down the book and found a new one that seemed interesting by Timothy Keller: The Prodigal God. I didn’t find answers and instead found more questions which a piece of me loathed. These questions were more centered around following Christ and our Christian walk and if I had ever been a true Christian. I hated the confusing place I was in with almost no answers coming my way. I prayed to God, begged Him, to show me that He was there, that He was with me. To give me answers.
And silence came back to me.
I was walking back from the church to my place, a packet of biscuits in my hand and my ministers books under my jacket (it was drizzling). I had my back turned to a sunset of blazing orange and pink and saw only the dreary clouds ahead of me. I thought back to my prayers and was desperate for a sign, for anything, that would show me that God was listening. I looked up and saw a rainbow, a stark contrast of colour against the grey clouds. A resplendent display of hope and joy against depression and despair. And I remembered the story of God using it as a confirmation of His covenant, a sign of His faithfulness, with Noah (Genesis 9) and suddenly I felt a stirring in my heart. I had heard the answer to my prayers the second I laid eyes on the rainbow: God’s faithfulness. God’s presence. He was listening. He had heard me. The Lord showed me that He was still there, that He would never abandon us, that He hears our prayers and cries and pleas and questions. When things seem darkest, when all of life’s problems pile up, when the worst comes to pass, when we stand alone, when the world seems stacked against us, God is there. I didn’t get the answers I wanted, but I truly got the one I needed today.
My cousin, the one who fell? He and his parents are not particularly religious or spiritual (i.e. they have no real relationship with God, at least not the Judeo-Christian God) but after that accident, his parents begged everyone to pray. And you know what happened? God is faithful. My cousin woke up. While I cannot say if he is completely fine mentally, he is essentially fine. No meningitis. No more bleeding on the brain. No worry about him dying. He was protected by God. All glory to God.