God answered what surely was their unspoken question with a promise that transcended the generations for every age to come when He reassured Adam and Eve that one day He would send a Savior Who would destroy the power of sin, death, and the devil—the fundamental sources of all human suffering. Ultimately this brokenness did lead to blessing, and their suffering did lead to glory when Jesus Christ, their descendant in the flesh, came to redeem mankind from sin and reconcile the world to God.
To our heart-wrenched cries of Why? God's ultimate answer is, "Jesus," as He is glorified and magnified in our lives through our suffering.
During the times when you and I can't trace God's hand of purpose, we must trust His heart of love. When we don't understand why, we must trust Him because God cares for us more than we can possibly know.
A Tale of Two Birds
A turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won't come near. On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. Based on your reaction to the storms of life, which are you? A turkey or an eagle?
It's natural for me to be a turkey in my emotions, but I have chosen to be an eagle in my spirit. And as I have spread my wings of faith to embrace the "Wind," placing my trust in Jesus and Jesus alone, I have experienced quiet, "everyday" miracles:
His joy has balanced my pain.
His power has lifted my burden.
His peace has calmed my worries.
His grace has been more than adequate to cover me.
His strength has been sufficient to carry me through.
His love has bathed my wounds like a healing balm.
Soaring has become an adventure of discovering just how faithful He can be when I am way out of my comfort zone in the stratosphere over the storm. Soaring is an adventure of discovering by experience His answer to my pain. And I imagine a smile of infinite tenderness on His face as the angels in heaven applaud, "Anne, you're finally getting it. Now you're beginning to understand one of the reasons why God has allowed these bad things to happen."
And, to a greater degree than ever before, I do understand. Soaring is so exhilarating, I find increasingly that I am no longer content to live in the barnyard of familiar comfort just for the relative security that seems to be there. I want to live by faith.
The Big Picture
Looking back over that 18-month period of loss and uncertainty in my life, my confident conclusion is that God allowed the storms of suffering to increase and intensify because He wanted me to soar higher in my relationship with Him.
Faith that triumphantly soars is possible only when the winds of life are contrary to personal comfort. That kind of faith is His ultimate purpose in allowing us to encounter storms of suffering.
Jesus taught us this lesson of triumphant faith in the little town of Bethany in the days that immediately preceded the history-splitting storm that broke in Jesus' own life at Calvary—a storm that carried Him to the very highest pinnacle of glory and power. In that small-town setting, Jesus revealed God's answer to our question, "Why did You let this bad thing happen?"
His timeless response to our heartfelt query was given dramatically to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus—a family living in Bethany (John 11:1-44). Ultimately they soared to the very heights of faith on the wings of the storm that suddenly swept into their lives. Their experience underscores the truth that God's picture for our lives is much bigger than our own. And it reminds us of the challenge to trust His greater, ultimate purpose when bad things inevitably happen.
Adapted from Why?: Trusting God When You Don't Understand (W, 2004). © 2004 Anne Graham Lotz. Used by permission of W Publishing. All rights reserved. Used with permission.