I want to clarify something from the end of my last post. I did not say God loves the people of Nepal in an attempt to cover up or explain away the suffering they have endured. I did not experience what they experienced, and I do not for a minute pretend to have answers to all the why questions. Why did the earthquake happen? Why would a loving God allow such suffering? Why Nepal? Why now? I don’t know. But I do know that God loves every single person that walks the earth, including each person affected by this earthquake.
Let me get on my soapbox for a minute. Sometimes Christians get this funny idea that following God means they won’t have to suffer. That is completely unbiblical! In John 16:33 Jesus says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” And I could go on. Suffering is part of the human experience, and Christians are not exempt.
However, you may have noticed that while all of these verses promise suffering, the suffering is infused with hope. Jesus has overcome the world, His glory will be revealed, and the struggle is not the end of the story. Revelation 21:4 carries a beautiful picture of what will come at the end of the story. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Ok, now back to what I was saying before I got onto my soapbox. The reality of hope and better things to come does not negate the pain that the people of Nepal are currently feeling. When terrible things happen to the people I love, the question that always rises up within me is: where is God in this mess? The best peace I have been able to make with that question is that He is weeping. Sometimes He is comforting and mending and restoring, but ultimately, He is weeping with His children. In a book I recently read called The Invisible Girls by Sarah Thebarge, (side note – I would highly recommend it!) Sarah paints an image of God that I had never thought about before. She calls God the Great Physician, and explains that, in her suffering, “He was the infinitely loving, infinitely wise parent standing against the Procedure Room wall of life, watching me suffer as tears welled up in His eyes. He was waiting for the moment when the trial had finished its work in my life, ready to pick me up the second it was done and carry me home.”
So yet again, I’ll leave you with a song.