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August 1, 2004

“How could this happen to such good people?”

“Where is our loving God in the midst of all this?”

“Why should such terrible things happen to such a Godly family?”

So many times we have heard these questions.  They seem almost unchristian - a questioning of God’s sovereignty.  Yet, confronted by suffering these question echo in our minds.  How could a sovereign God allow these things to happen?

These doubts and questions arise from the very real suffering we all experience.  To not ask these questions would be to deny what life is really like.  Life hurts.  Despite the ups, life does have a number of downs.

God does not avoid the question of suffering.  Scripture declares that Satan is its cause and describes this world as in rebellion against God.  In fact, all of creation waits for the release from bondage to sin and the work of Satan which God has promised us is coming (Romans 8:18-25).

Our problems rise like walls around us.  The cold shadows of despair and discouragement hide our path.  In the darkness of doubt we fearfully tread.  Joy is hard to see.

David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

As David walks through “the valley of the shadow of death” it is no surprise for him to be there.  The anguish, suffering, and pain are an assumed part of life.

Yet, in the valley, David walks without fear.  God is with him.  As a shepherd guides his sheep, so God is near to David, His rod and staff guiding David down the path to safety.

This is the good news in suffering - God is with us!  Trusting Jesus as our Savior does not mean that we are immune to the suffering of this world.  Indeed, our suffering may increase as Satan comes to discourage our faith in God.  But, God is with us.

How greatly Satan desires to have us forget the good news of God’s presence.  Like the disciples who saw only the cross we are tempted to see only our problems - the darkness of the valley and the height of the walls.  But God offers us the choice to look with our hearts at the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus is the risen Savior who has triumphed over Satan, sin, and the sufferings of this world.  He will walk with us from darkness to light.  He will be there for us in our pain and all of the circumstances of our lives.

In the midst of the worst experiences of my life I have found comfort only when I have chosen to turn from seeing the pain and to seek after God.  I have not always understood the “whys.”  But, I have begun to understand what David writes, “I fear no evil, for You are with me.”

May we turn from seeing only the suffering and seek Jesus - the only one who is able to bring us to lasting comfort.  God is with you!