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Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Cruelty of God

"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?"
— C.S. Lewis

I love this quote, and it has everything to do with the discourse happening in my head and with my family these last few weeks. We have been bombarded with opportunities for deep intercessory prayer - dear friends who are suffering so much after a horrible accident with their son, another college friend who is watching his premature baby fight for his life, and then a choir member who struggles to recover from a simple outpatient heart procedure that went terribly awry.

Each scenario flirts with tragedy. Each day is a roller coaster of hope and despair, alternating viciously with huge drops and violent twists upward. It's too much to bear, but as we fall on the mercies of a God who promises to never leave us, He still seems to be so far away in this time when we need Him the most.

It's cruelty to get one's hopes up, only to have them shattered . . . at least that's what we've come to believe. The question looms so large that it threatens to block out any redeeming thought ... "How can God perform miracles one day and then pull those miracles out from under us the next ...?"

We are left feeling foolish for praising God in a seemingly false victory, and our faith is threatened as we struggle to believe in any future possibility of healing.

It seems like a mean-spirited set-up, to be completely honest. God seems a bit cruel at the moment, if we are transparent enough to admit it.

Job was.

He lost everything. His family, possessions, and health. And did he ever have something to say about it! I'm reminded of his journey, and I'm also remembering the conclusion of his discourse with his family, his friends, and then with God Himself.

Job also praised God in calamity, and things just got worse. Job also felt what we are feeling now, and yes, even went so far as to say that God was being cruel to him ...

Job 30:17-- "You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me."

The largest part of his story was spent dealing with the tragedy, with the accusations, and with the aftermath and thoughts of the unfairness of it all. It's easy to see God as cruel when you are in the middle of a living nightmare.

But to accurately see God, we must do our best to put our perspective and faith outside of our storm. We cannot look at the chaos and properly see Him for who He is. This was Job's problem and is now ours. In our humanity, we take our struggle and place it as our point of perspective. And from this point we see cruelty and sin abounding more.

But this cannot be. We know His grace abounds much more! Therefore we must place our point of perspective in the person of Christ, living in us, who reigns over sin and disease and tragedy. He is our Savior! He is our Deliver and Comforter! And He draws us continually to Himself, bringing us to the point where we, like Job, can eventually say "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you!" Job 42:5

And with this renewed view of God, Job found healing, and we start to see the cruelty of God for what it actually is ...


His ways are above ours, but His heart is immense in its love towards us.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2011