Our church is currently going through a series on the theology of suffering (and, of course, the sovereignty of God). These lyrics from the sovereign grace CD Come Weary Saints, by Mark Altrogge, come to mind.
Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain?
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine,
Yet grumble in days of rain?
Shall I love You in times of plenty,
Then leave You in days of drought?
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest,
But when winter winds blow, then doubt?
Oh let Your will be done in me!
In Your love I will abide,
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified!
Are You good only when I prosper,
And true only when IÂ’m filled?
Are You King only when IÂ’m carefree,
And God only when IÂ’m well?
You are good when IÂ’m poor and needy,
You are true when IÂ’m parched and dry,
You still reign in the deepest valley,
YouÂ’re still God in the darkest night!
So quiet my restless heart, quiet my restless heart
Quiet my restless heart in You
Perhaps most poignant to me in suffering is a church sister, one of my closer friends, whom I think I mentioned before. Her very young daughter has a life-threatening heart condition, and the medical experts on her case a couple of weeks ago have finally said there is nothing more they can do. Can you watch your child die? Can you bury your own child, who is so vibrant and unique? What did she do to deserve this? God, why are we suffering?
While He creates calamity (Isaiah 45:7) and rains on both the righteous and unrighteous (Matt 5:45), our holy, just, merciful, patient, infinitely loving God does not author sin and suffering. We recall that He also allowed His own Son, whom He loved, to die. He was sinless and therefore least deserving of suffering, but Christ received the greatest suffering of all. So why injustice? Why must my child die? Because of God’s purposes, which are higher than ours. In His loving, perfect, compassionate wisdom, He allowed it. Oh, God, you are a wonderful, glorious, mysterious God.
One day all tears will be wiped away, imperfect made perfect, death reversed, and You will be glorified as much as You finally deserve. Til then, we seek Your glory with every stumbling breath we breathe, our continual sins covered by Your blood, and even in the depths of our suffering, we know that You are still God, and You are still good.