Hello TD! I hope your start to the year has been just what God has wanted it to be for you, even if not what you had planned. That’s been the case for me, where God has been revealing and exposing my heart and showing me this boy still has a long way to go. Though humbled, it is objectively a great start to the new year. That’s why our first meeting of 2014 was on Job, of all people.
And now, I’d like to introduce a new series of essays, entitled, “Who Are You, God?” Written nearly 5 years ago, in today’s inaugural essay of the series, you can feel the struggle, fight, and pain, our dear E.I. was going through. The fight still continues today. When I approached her about the possibility of posting her essay, though it is vulnerable and sensitive, she agreed if it could minister to anyone. It will. Thanks, E.I.! – Arthur
The existence of suffering is an issue that many people raise against the existence of God. If a loving God exists, of course there wouldn’t be any suffering in this world, right? Although it is often used as an argument against His existence, without suffering, many people would not seek Him, including myself.
I remember the moment when I first heard the news of my parents’ divorce. I knew that my parents didn’t share the most exciting of relationships, that they had their share of arguments, and that there was a slight possibility of them separating. Knowing this was not enough to prepare me for this moment. When my mom shared the news with me, my mind went blank. Something inside me died. To this day I cannot easily talk about those memories without reliving them and freshly feeling the pangs of hurt deep within me.
Before you pity me, let me share with you why it hurt so much. My rosy perception of life was shattered. I clearly saw the depravity of my parents. Even worse, I stood face to face with a true reflection of my artificial faith.
Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, I knew the Gospel, well, at least technically. It made sense that God exists and I could understand why Jesus had to come die on the cross for us. I could see why I had to accept Christ into my heart. However, deep inside, the main reason why I called myself a Christian was because I was the pastor’s daughter. It was an obligation. When it came to my day-to-day living, I remained ultimately accountable to a different person—myself.
Still, I can argue, God didn’t have to make it such a painful process for me to realize that I didn’t have true faith. Did He really have to break my family apart? God, did you really have to do that?!
Scripture sheds some light onto this question through the life of Israel’s greatest human king. After committing heinous sins of adultery and premeditated murder and after a confrontation with the prophet Nathan, David says:
“Behold You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:6, 16-17)
David here realized that God doesn’t need our sacrifices or physical offerings. He wants us. He wants the allegiance of the heart, the inner man. Also, note that David did not coincidentally come to this revelation. It was after he was exposed to God’s scrutiny and after he was broken and distressed over his sins that he came to a deeper and fuller knowledge of God.
This is what He did with me. He had to literally bring me to my knees in pain in order for me to truly see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God,” specifically, “in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Although my memory of that time saddens me, I strangely look back with fondness. It was then that I felt closest to God. When grief over sin crushed my spirit, I found delight in the Gospel. When my eyes were filled with bitter tears, I could see more clearly the radiant glory of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:3). When it seemed that my world was crashing in, I felt deeply secure knowing that my God is Faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:24). During that moment of sorrow, I found true joy.
In the end, Romans 8:28 stands true: He really does “[cause] all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Even when hard times come, we know that even suffering is used for His good purpose of sanctifying His people to, like Jesus Christ, rightly worship Him. “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” (Psalm 95:6-7) There is nothing better than kneeling your heart before the throne of the true, living God.