Stop it, God

Yesterday my three-year-old came up to me crying because he bumped his head. A few minutes later, he smashed his finger in his toy truck. As I was hugging and consoling him, I sympathized, “You’re just having a really tough time today, aren’t you?” To which he sobbed, “Yeah, God needs to stop doing that to me!”

I was shocked and not sure what to say. I wish I could tell you that I said something brilliant, but in reality it was probably one of my less graceful mommy moments. It felt like a pivotal moment to teach my son something important and that was a lot of pressure. I didn’t know what to say that would do justice to the topic of God’s sovereignty and make sense to a three-year-old. I think I ended up telling him that God didn’t do those things to him and that sometimes bad things just happen.

Maybe not the whole truth, but good enough for now, I guess.

But I had so much going on inside my heart and mind while he went back to playing with his truck. Y’all, I have underwear older than this kid, and here he was expressing a pretty profound spiritual struggle many of us adults have:

Does God cause suffering?

I’ve wrestled with God over this question for years. It has led me to question God’s goodness, His love for me, and in the hardest moments, even His existence, because I couldn’t reconcile a loving God who causes suffering. It made me angry because I felt helpless, and He seemed, at best, careless, and at worst, vindictive.

Why didn’t I get that job I desperately wanted? Why is my marriage so hard and painful? Why did that have to happen and ruin our finances? … Stop doing this to me, God!

Once again, I saw my own immature thinking in my son. (It’s hard realizing how much like a toddler you actually are!). I do believe I’ve grown in that area, and I’m thankful. I feel like I’ve finally found some peace about the answers to the questions of suffering.

Some. I say only some because this is such a difficult topic that I have a hard time hanging onto that peace when I’m sitting with people sharing unimaginable stories of suffering–of sexual trauma by someone who should have loved them, or the loss of a 13-year-old son to cancer, or the physical and emotional beatings of an alcoholic father. And of course, there’s the macro-suffering we are usually detached from: extreme poverty and starvation, war, human trafficking, on and on. When face-to-face with the worst kinds of human pain, questions and answers about suffering are not just philosophical discussions had over coffee. In the rawest, darkest moments of our lives, the answers to those questions become either the life or deaths of our souls. They are our only possible lifeline to hope and the redemption of all we’ve had to endure.

And honestly, I know how weak I am. I know how quickly I throw away my trust in God and how stubborn I can be in demanding my way. So I also know good and well that I might slip back into that “stop it, God” thinking the next time even a small trial comes. It starts with,

“May my cry come before you, LORD; give me understanding according to your will.” {Psalm 119:169}

And then I pray I will humbly accept Truth, so I can walk through even the lowest valleys in thankfulness and peace.

Much love,

Cherie

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