We often wonder about why a good loving God allows bad things to happen. We are often puzzled by why persons who are obviously wonderful Christians are allowed to die so young. We sometimes wonder why adversity happens to us when we are trying so hard to do the right thing and please God.
I learned many years ago that one reason for adversity in our lives is that God wants us to do something other than what we had planned to do. As a result of this understanding, I am no longer anxious if I am late to a very important meeting. I know that God had a good reason for wanting me to be late, and I am now confident that sooner or later I will find out or figure out what it was.
A classic example of this was told by my son, Steven, back in 1997. He said that, when he and his family left our house in Florida to return by car to their home in Connecticut, Thomas, his youngest, asked him to tie his shoes. Even though it only took about 15 seconds, Steven was exasperated by the delay. However, about 4 hours later he saw the reason for it: A car driving in their lane on I-95 about 15 seconds ahead of him was hit by an oncoming truck that crossed the median, killing several people. If he had not tied those shoes, theirs would have been the car hit.
Because of realizing how God controls our lives, if we allow him to do so, when I am confronted with an exasperating situation that I don’t understand I now ask “Lord, why are you doing this? What is it that you are trying to teach me? Please give me the patience to wait for your answer and the wisdom to understand it.”
I learned some time ago that if we take time to pray and include silent portions in our prayers we can often get an answer while we are on our knees, before we end that prayer. And those answers can sometimes be astounding.
When I used to do computer programming, many were the times when I was faced with an “impossible” problem — one over which I had struggled for hours or sometimes for days and for which I had completely exhausted all of the book resources that I possessed, all to no avail. And many times I said, “Lord, I give up. There has to be a solution to this problem, but I can’t figure it out. But you can, because you know everything, even about computers.” And more often than not before I quit praying, while I was just waiting on my knees and thinking, an idea popped into my head that I had never thought about — sometimes an idea that seemed far-fetched or irrelevant — but nevertheless one which turned out to solve the problem when I tried it.
Some people may wonder about what kind of things are the proper subjects of prayer. After all, how can God hear so many prayers from so many people at one time? Is it right to pester Him about things that are not earth shaking, when He must be so busy? Is it demeaning on my part to take petty things to Him in prayer? If some little trivial thing is nevertheless important to me, should I keep it to myself, just because it is not a major problem?
You may disagree with me, but I have learned from experience that, just as nothing is too difficult for the Lord to solve, so also nothing is too trivial to take to Him. In a moment I will tell you why.
I have been retired from practicing my profession for 21 years. During that time salaries have steadily increased, while our retirement pension has remained virtually constant. Dorian and I are grateful that it has never decreased, but its lack of increase while the cost of living keeps escalating means that I have to do most of the handy-man repair and maintenance work around our house, which, by the way, keeps me so busy that I often wonder how I ever had time to work as a chemist. This maintenance work often is outside, sometimes involving small parts like special screws, frequently in a less-than-ideal location — like in tall grass. So it is not unusual for me to have some tiny special part suddenly disappear from view. I have learned that the quickest way to get back to work is to say, “Dear Lord: You know how busy I am. I just can’t afford to take time to look for (fill in the blank). Please help me find it.” Believe it or not, the usual response is that I realize that the thing in front of me that I was looking at all along is the missing part.”
There is a reason for taking everything (even including trivia) to the Lord in prayer: First, I believe He is interested in all aspects of our lives, besides just the number of hairs on our heads (Mat. 10:30). (If that were the extent of His interest, my poor father, who became bald before I was ever born, would have had a real problem.) Second, by being able to take everything to Him in prayer, the mere fact of frequent conversations – even on trivial subjects – establishes a closeness that is as comforting as it is rewarding.
Notwithstanding all of this, the fact remains that situations arise that seem unjust, unfair, inexplicable, and the very thing that an all-wise loving Father would not allow – for example: a young Christian parent with dependent children passing on at an early age, especially after a courageous battle against a dread disease and much prayer on the part of a host of friends and relatives. How can Romans 8:28 apply to a situation like that?
I don’t know how it can apply, but I am convinced that nevertheless it does apply even in that case and that eventually those left behind will see the fruit of the Lord’s decision – perhaps in the building of character on the part of those who now have to fend for themselves – perhaps in a sensitizing of the mourners to the realization that life is uncertain at best and often shorter than we would prefer, and so it is time to turn over a new leaf and start doing something that will really make the world a better place, one person at a time.
When confronted with such a situation I console myself with thinking of us as helpers of the Master Weaver at work on His tapestry. We sit under His huge quilting frame, and our needles pass up to Him threads through the cloth above, as He calls out each color and its location. From where we sit, life is just a mess of loose threads hanging down – threads that we have to locate and knots that we have to tie. But from His perspective, seated above and looking down, the picture being woven is beautiful beyond comparison – and some day we, too, will be at His side and realize what a wonderful life it had been.
— Louis G. Stang, Jr.