What do you do when you know that God can but you don’t know if God will?
Or where is God when good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people?
If you look back through your life, I’m sure there are many shadows that defy a good, solid “Look at what God has done” proclamations. There sure are in mine.
Those are the moments that we kinda shuffle from our memories and avoid bringing up in conversations, particularly with unbelievers.
In fact, that is probably why we all dread that moment when darkness envelopes a friend, coworker, family member, or acquaintance with tragedy or depression.
Because we Christians, the ones who believe in a loving, all-powerful God are confronted through our friend’s grief with our own doubt: can God really be good if he allows these horrendous circumstances?
My life has been far from shiny. There are rusted, rotted, rank moments, days, weeks, even years where the easy answer that God is good rings just a bit hollow.
Many days I spend asking God why, if he loves me so much, he doesn’t get off his butt and help me.
In fact, this week has been another such moment where life, calling, and God’s character are not adding up. Then I read Isaiah 50.
In Isaiah 50, God’s prophet details his troubles. Abuse is a good word for the treatment Isaiah suffered at the hands of God’s own people (does that resonate with anyone else who has spent time around the Church and been burned, or is that just me?).
Here is a man who was the mouthpiece of God for years. That would have to be a pretty intimate relationship between God and Isaiah.
And yet Isaiah struggled with abuse, depression, death threats, and suicidal thoughts.
Why didn’t God take that away? Based on what he proclaimed and worked through Isaiah, it wasn’t an issue of impotence. But God didn’t take those things away.
Here’s what Isaiah says in the midst of abuse:
- “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced,” (Isaiah 50:7, ESV),
- “Behold, the Lord God helps me” (Isaiah 50:9, ESV), and finally,
- “Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10, ESV).
There are many other instances where Isaiah’s attitude was a bit more bleak. The comfort there is that we know that even a prophet of God can droop under the weight of divine purpose on a profane planet.
The book of Isaiah offers us an intimate view of God in the midst of darkness, both internal and external. It proclaims the faithfulness of God even when the circumstances don’t make sense.
We will never know all of what God is doing and all of who God is. If we could, what would be the point of faith?
But we can trust that no matter how dark our days get, the Lord our God is right there with us, watching our steps, picking us up when we fall, and beating back more enemies than we would be comfortable knowing are out there watching our steps.
There is no easy answer in our dark days. But there is a God who invites us to cry out, shake our fists, and ask the hard questions. He is not threatened by our confusion and doubt.
This week has been dark for me. But I’m choosing to believe that God is actively working in my favor, doing things on my behalf that would stagger me with the force of his love if only I knew.
I may never know the whys behind my dark days, but I can know the God who is bigger than the dark days.
Song credit goes to Emery’s “The Less You Say,” from You Were Never Alone.