God allows harm to impact his people.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were unable to have children, and they struggled with this reality for decades. They worshiped, prayed, and hoped in God. However, despite their fervent supplication, they God determined they would struggle with infertility for the majority of their days.
For a couple of years, Laura and I felt similar pain as we struggled to have children. We went through the various tests and procedures, but no solutions were found. Everything in our bodies seemed to be operating properly. The doctors were a bit confused, and we were somewhat frustrated. Then one day a certain physician learned that I played racquetball during my lunch break almost every day. He also learned that those racquetball matches were followed by my daily visiting the 104-degree hot-tub. He suggested I give the “warming bath” a break. Well, that fixed everything! Laura conceived, gave birth, and we were blessed with three Our infertility grief was short-lived.
This has not been the case with all of our dear friends. We have relationships with several couples who have never been granted natural children by the Lord. Like us they dreamed, struggled, sought the advise of medical experts, prayed, and cried. Even today, upon reading this blog, some of them will wipe a tear from their eyes. However, despite the tears and prayers, the Sovereign God who opens and closes wombs chose not to grant them procreative success. God was the All-Powerful and All-Wise One who allowed harm to impact his people.
Why does God not respond quickly to the prayers of his people and alleviate their intense pain? Why does he allow some to suffer for years, others for decades, and others for the entirety of their lives? Why does God allow harm to impact his people?
God uses the harm that impacts his people.
God does not always give a reason for the harm he allows, but he always has a reason. In the case of Zechariah and Elizabeth, God used their pain to:
- Answer prayer
- Provide an opportunity for Elizabeth to testify
- Provide an opportunity for Zechariah to prophesy
- Encourage fear and awe in the community
- Encourage spiritual dialogue in the community
- Encourage joyful praise in the community
- Encourage Messianic anticipation
- Bring forth, at the perfect time, the ordained herald of Christ
Why has God allowed Joni Erickson Tada to suffer for decades?
Why has God allowed Christians to suffer in Iranian prisons?
Why has God allowed you to suffer with infertility, poverty, abuse, physical disability, disease, mental illness, prodigal children, marital adultery, civil injustice, governmental folly, substance addiction, besetting sin, or the death of a loved one? You do not know, but several possibilities are to:
- Display for all the horrible effects of the Fall
- Promote a longing for resurrection and eternity
- Encourage personal humility and dependence
- Increase prayer by you and for you
- Grant others the opportunity to minister to you
- Display his miraculous power
- Build sanctifying faith in you being hurt
- Call to salvation those watching from the outside
- Sovereignly and mysteriously promote his kingdom
- Slowly and surely humiliate and defeat the devil
We do not always know how God uses the harm he allows, but we always know that he uses the harm he allows. The “Sovereign Who” has a “mysterious why” behind every “painful what.”
Being reminded of the pain allowed by God …
I am not asking you to name it and claim it. God does not promise to solve all your problems on this side of the grave. He may grant you children; he may uphold your barren condition. It just may be his will that you perish while still in your infirmity. Suffering is the lot of every man.
I am not asking you to discount your pain. Some of you are struggling in ways I cannot understand. Others in ways I cannot imagine. I am so sorry God is allowing you to suffer so.
I am not asking you to call suffering, “good.” It is not good. It is the result of the fall. It will be done away with one day.
I am not asking you to hide your pain. It is not a sign of godliness to keep a stiff upper lip and hold back the tears. You do not have to enjoy what God has ordained and is allowing. David screamed to God. Lamentations is a book in your Bible. Jesus cried out in anguish. You can too.
I am certainly not asking you or your friends to determine the “mysterious why” behind the “painful what.” Job’s friends were sure they knew the purpose behind Job’s pain; they were wrong. You can feel free to ignore your friends who know exactly why God does what he does. Hannah was distraught. David was confused. Elijah was bewildered. John the Baptist will prove to have his own huge questions. Friends, you are not supposed to know the “mysterious why” behind the “painful what.”
So how am I hoping to encourage you?
I am writing to remind you again of the “Sovereign Who” who has the “mysterious why” behind the “painful what.” Do not believe the various lies of the devil. He will tell you that God sees not, cares not, controls not, and uses not your suffering. Friends, be assured of this, your Heavenly Father wastes not one bit of your trouble. He is the “Sovereign Who” behind the “painful what” and he always has a “mysterious, wise, and glorious why.” He wastes not one iota your suffering. It is all perfectly planned, providentially governed, and all for a grand purpose. You will be saved. You will be resurrected. You will enjoy a perfect body in a perfect garden on the perfect planet with perfect friends. But until then, you are his instrument — a hurting instrument — being used for the promotion of your King and his Kingdom. Therefore, as you suffer, cry, pant, plead, pray, and scream, endure all for the glory of your Lord and Savior whom you will see relatively soon. He wastes not your suffering; neither should you. Suffer well for the glory of God.
Luke 1:57-80 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.