Disclaimer: This post speaks about those dealing with suffering that is outside of their control, especially in how they have been created–I wanted to discuss the theology around suffering and verses like Psalm 139:14. I understand that the pain and suffering so many people go through is not a light matter, and I do not mean to be insensitive toward those who struggle. Rather, I mean to encourage those going through things such as this. Please let me know, and forgive me, if this is not how the post sounded.
A child is born without arms or legs. Another has cleft palate, something that deforms the face and makes eating and drinking difficult.
One person started showing signs of schizophrenia at the age of 20, causing them pain, suffering, and a much difficult go at life. Another was born with severe autism.
The stories could go on and on, and they leave me wondering: With many people going through such suffering, how can the Word say that all of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)? Are we still fearfully and wonderfully made when we have so many physical and mental health problems? Have you wondered this as well? In such a fallen world, we may all have something that causes us to ask this difficult question. It is a question that can easily draw those who suffer into a place of discouragement, frustration, heartbreak over their own suffering. The honest truth is this: it is difficult to not become bitter when our lives are so cruel and dark. As they look on their lot in life, sometimes one can’t help but ask, “Why God?”. It can leave them scoffing at the idea that all of God’s works are wonderful (Psalm 139:14).
Thinking on these things, I asked a family member to help me gain some clarity about the question of how even people with such circumstances as these have been made in a fearful and wonderful way. Her words were striking: “Who are we to say if something is wonderful or not? Only God can do that.” She went on: “God does not owe us a response to our questions. We cannot see the bigger picture—only God does—and He does not owe us an explanation for how our lives fit into His big plan.”
My family member’s reply gave me a lot of insight; but what she said is not the full story. This world is broken (see: “We’re Not In Heaven Yet Part One”), and illness and disease are no doubt part of that fallen world. I do not mean at all to undermine people’s suffering. It is real, heartbreaking, and cause for much frustration. I also don’t want to be cliché when dealing with such a sensitive topic. We live in a fallen world, and much of this was not meant to be. My family member’s words shone a lot of wisdom on the subject, I believe there is more to be said. We may want answers from God badly for what He has allowed, and sometimes He gives them to us; other times, we will just have to wait, and trust; this reality is heart-rending for many.
But there is hope. Born-again believers in Jesus Christ will understand all things one day in heaven; but until then, we must trust that Jesus, the ultimate author and artist (Hebrews 12:2; Jeremiah 18), is using even “disabilities,” trials, and unfair life circumstances to create something much more wonderful than we could ever think, pray for, or imagine.
It takes a lot of courage and resilience to look suffering and illness in the eye, and not let it make us lose faith in Christ. May the hardest moments of our lives lead us not bitterness or self-pity, but to clinging to Jesus all the more, knowing that He is good. It is the one thing that will truly get us through.
Let’s talk about this. How do you believe about your own illnesses or suffering when it comes to Psalm 139?
Do you know Jesus?
The world is suffering. From hunger and poverty to violence and rape, this world is screaming out for God to come and fix it.
God saw this suffering, and instead of keeping a “safe distance” from the suffering of planet earth, He entered into this suffering world, healing people and bringing them to faith in Himself.
The truth of the matter is, nothing can make us whole again but accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Learn more about Jesus, what He did, and how it applies to you, here.
Please pray for…
- The Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu, that they would be home and out of suffering under Boko Haram soon.
- Those in Northern Nigeria that are undergoing extreme suffering.
- Those currently trapped in warzones, such as Northern Nigeria and other places in the middle east.
- Those who are bitter towards Christ for their life circumstances.
- The worldwide Church; that we would take in those who are suffering, provide them relief and healing, and share with them about Jesus and His Love for them.
Thank you for your prayers!