I remember sitting with Luke on the steps to the alleyway last semester. He was dying inside for lack of peace. Over the next few weeks, we talked and prayed and cried out to God together. I fervently read the Psalms with him. We’d eat french fries and wonder when God would respond.
We didn’t doubt, we just wondered.
I’ve been confronted with the idea that God suffers inconsolably with us, and that discontent breeds love, so we all must be discontent, including God. That he’s impatiently pacing back and forth, waiting for the day when perfection can be restored in heaven. Eden made us lose our innocence, and now we have to face the tragedies and sufferings that accompany knowledge of good and evil. He’s going to wipe our tears away, but I denote a problem with this image of a suffering God who is out of control, doesn’t understand, and doesn’t have a purpose.
Dostoevsky asked what kind of world justified the tears of children. I can sit here myself and wonder why God has been silent at times in my life or Luke’s life or for the 400 years between the two Testaments in the Bible.
The answer is, I don’t know. But there’s a “but” in that statement: I may not know, but God does. He is in control, not pacing the throne room, not unable to escape the crucifixion himself, for it is finished. Christ died for the ungodly; he is a man of sorrows. But he is the risen Lord. He intimately understands our suffering, lived it, took it on, and eagerly awaits the day to wipe away our tears and the tears of our children. Christ is victorious, a perfect mediator on our behalf at the right hand of the Father, not a weeping, powerless heap.
As Isaiah stated in chapter 6, God is seated on his throne. He sees what is happening–he sees YOU. He is not apathetic or uncaring, but he is not inconsolable. He understands, loves, works, and weeps with us, but he is also high above us, knowing more that we ever could about why he has set things the way they are. He has ordained every day of our lives, yet the sovereignty of God has not nullified the responsibility of man: we brought sin into the world, but for his glory, God is waiting to close this chapter. And he will.
Faith IS certainty in things not seen, things hoped for. I’m not hiding behind naivete, nervously defending God from questions he himself does not put up armor against. I can’t answer it all; I can only survey the cross and preach Christ crucified, seeing that God indeed has a plan even if it involves great sorrows for unknown reasons. Despite the valley of the shadow of death perpetually casting our earthly lives into darkness, we can still say “Amen,” for the eschatological truth remains: we are in Him, souls redeemed. Heaven is a reality, even if we aren’t living in it now. Sorrow will cease. We will be with Him, and we will be able to finally have constant, perfect peace.
“To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. Amen” (Jude 24-25).