God Isn’t Fair. And I’m Glad
February 6, 2015
By Laura DiFatta
Once, when we were experiencing a time of intense suffering over our critically ill child, a well-meaning friend said, “I’m so sorry God is doing this to you! I mean, you are such good people.” I was caught off guard, but not angry. I actually felt sorry for her because throughout our suffering, we had felt such an intensity of God’s presence and had seen such overwhelming evidence of His love and creative provision before our journey began and in our journey, that we were actually feeling very overwhelmed with His love. That’s not to diminish the pain we were in; it had just never even occurred to us that He was punishing us. Her statement also revealed the possibility that her relationship and trust in God’s goodness was based on good people deserve God’s goodness and not suffering. That faulty paradigm was being messed with. It was disturbing to her. I’ve been there.
Suffering is a very deep subject the likes of which many books are written about. I am hardly even going to scratch the surface of suffering as a Christian in this post, but goodness knows I’ve walked through it, hurt for others going through it and I’ve sought God’s heart over the role of suffering in this world. So maybe I can encourage you if you are suffering now with a few of the insights I’ve gained:
Suffering is an inherent part of our human experience. Duh, you might say. Tell me something I don’t know. But, think about it; we tend to be surprised when it comes. I believe that once we consciously embrace the fact that we will experience suffering, we will accept that there are ways to prepare our hearts and minds for it that are healthy. One such way that my husband and I were “prepared” for our time of intense suffering was that we were familiar with God’s Word. We had verses already in our memory that comforted and strengthened us and we read the Bible continuously and we were amazed at the personal comfort God has there. His Word became very fresh for us during that time. And although my faith was tested during that trial (that’s a conversation for another time,) God’s Word undergirded me and my husband like nothing else and brought me through with deeper faith. God literally overwhelmed my doubts.
Suffering was a part of Jesus’ experience on earth. We have a God who left perfection— where all is fully understood, there is no disease or death or anxiety, there is complete peace and joy and beauty— and lived through all that we experience— including suffering over others and suffering personally— so that we could be assured of His empathy. That is intensely kind. I have mentioned in a previous post that I felt deep in my soul the understanding of Father God who for my good, for your good, saw His own Son suffer horribly. As I held my own son who was literally dying in my arms, He impressed on my soul the empathy encompassed by His love. Our Savior understands and He reaches in to our suffering with His lavish provision.
God writes the script. I wouldn’t have written my family’s story to include suffering. But, now, I wouldn’t change it. I have seen and felt and heard the Lord personally in a way that my times of comfort would have never afforded me. My family does not put our faith in the things of this world as fully now and we are continuously reminded that God alone deserves our full faith and trust. And as I look into the faces of those who are suffering I know that God is weaving a love story that reveals His character to them and that He is drawing them to Himself. Hope and an eternal perspective can be the result of suffering. However, that perspective does not happen by accident. It results from intentionally seeking God. I’ve told people through the years who have said, “your faith was so strong during that hard time” that I’m the first to admit that I was weak enough to be desperate for God’s strength. I knew that I had no hope through anything or anyone else! God will move in response to your cries for help! In fact, He is moving before the words are formed in your mouth.
We are a captive audience when we are suffering. We are way more attentive to God in those times. Therefore, suffering is a tool in the perfecting process of the children of God. Because God can be trusted through the process, we can also trust that He will restore us! I prayed during that time that not one ounce of our suffering would be wasted and that God would redeem it all in ways that are good and that glorify Him. To this day, He continues to show us that He is answering those prayers! It is a ripple effect of His hand of mercy into the pain!
Suffering. What a subject: It is as deep and as personal as each person is unique. Suffering can bring out the very best and the very worst in us. People have become stronger in their faith through suffering and have in turn been encouragers to others like no one else could’ve been otherwise. And then others have been broken apart over suffering and have become bitter. I am so grateful for the former and am so tender and sad for the latter. I have heard it said that God allowing suffering isn’t fair. I would respond that God’s mercy isn’t fair. And it isn’t easy or fair to pursue people who continually turn their backs on Him. Thank God that He isn’t fair! He gives me far, far more than I deserve. His tools may be unconventional in terms of our understanding, but I choose to trust in the One Whose unfair mercy gave His Own Son to ransom my undeserving and desperate soul.
If you are suffering now, you are not alone in your fight. You may have someone praying over you that you are unaware of. You certainly have a God who loves you personally. Jesus himself said that we should expect suffering but that we should be encouraged because He is our overcomer! God is tremendously compassionate toward our pain. Your suffering doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. In fact, He is ready to show you His love in a fresh way through it. Watch! He will!
I hope and pray today that you will ask God to give you hope in the good plan that He has for you and for those you love. (Jeremiah 29:11) And I pray that you will take your honest doubts and your pain and your broken heart to Him without being afraid that He will turn you away. He runs to us with compassion! And how much more so to those who are broken! And I hope that you will seek to grow in your eternal perspective regarding the destination of your soul and the souls of your loved ones.
On this earth, we will suffer whether we love or acknowledge God or not. Wouldn’t you rather commit yourself to God and His loving plan, confident that because His Son suffered on your behalf that —no matter what— through Him…
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his early life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”
1 Peter 4:1-2
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10
“I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised… In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.” Isaiah 63:7, 9