My mom knows what it is like to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. In 1953, she cradled her three-year-old daughter, Jeannie, as she died in her arms. In 2004, she watched her 46-year-old son, Bob, give way to the cancer that had racked his body for months. We've all heard that parents are not supposed to bury their children, but adversity doesn't bow to that adage. At 93, mom has laid two children in the grave.
Life is not tidy. Many times we are left scratching our heads, or worse, crying out over the seeming inequities of life. You've been there haven't you? My mom has. To a much lesser extent, I have too. In these moments I have learned that God can handle my hard questions. I can get gut-level honest with God. He can take it. I know this from reading the Scriptures.
Asaph grieved over the turmoil in Israel. He cried out in frustration,"O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves."1At another time, Job groaned, "Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me—tell me the charge you are bringing against me. What do you gain by oppressing me? Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands, while smiling on the schemes of the wicked?2
Both Asaph and Job felt abandoned. Both were bitter. Both were angry. Both gave God a "piece of their mind." Both asked the hard questions. Interestingly, God doesn't scold them.
Commenting on Job's encounter with God, Philip Yancey writes, "Throw at Him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment – He can absorb them all. As often as not, spiritual giants of the Bible are shown contending with God. They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out. In this respect, the Bible prefigures a tenet of modern psychology: you can't really deny your feelings or make them disappear, so you might as well express them."3
Let me be clear. God is not my divine punching bag, but the Scriptures tell me, "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us."4
Yes, God can handle your hard questions. He loves you that much.
Tomorrow we'll tackle what to do when God doesn't answer our "Why?"
1Psalm 80:4-6 (ESV). Read the entire Psalm by clicking here. 2Job 10:1-3 (NLT). Read more of Job's complaints by clicking here. 3Philip Yancey, 1997. Disappointment With God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. page 284. 4Psalm 62:8 (ESV). To read all of Psalm 62, click here.