I’m not exaggerating to say every day for the past seven days have presented mind-blowingly bad challenges. Each has come completely out of nowhere. Each one has the potential to devastate. So how do you handle that? When life is caving in, how can a person receive bad news, after bad news, after bad news and still stand up and say God is good?
It’s a process.
It does not happen instantly. Last week Rebecca would receive a bad call. In those moments it was easier for me to step in and instantly say, “We’re going to be fine, God is good.” And then I would get a bad call, and it was her turn to step in and do the same for me. Never am I instantly at peace with what’s happening. So here’s how I process suffering.
The first thing I do is get mad and lay blame. “Who’s fault is it?” I want that answered and I want to yell at them. This can be damaging because in the absence of a person to truly blame, it shifts to those around me. It’s not fair to them and it shouldn’t happen.
After I get angry, then depression starts to creep in. “Why is this happening to me? This will never change. I feel alone.” This is just as damaging. I can be upset, but depression hurts my family too. They need their husband and father to be strong. And I don’t mean a fake strong. I don’t mean pretending everything is peachy. Acknowledge the storm. Say, “This is what’s wrong and this is how I think God has called me to lead us through it.”
After I get angry and depressed, I will sit in it for a while and stew. Somewhere in there, in the midst of selfish anger, I feel God start to come in and work.
He begins to take my thoughts, which are all centered on my own unhappiness and turn them. He begins to speak so softly.
“I am here.”
“I willed this for your good.”
“I will not leave.”
Through no strength of my own I begin to feel peace and say, “God is good.” Sometimes it happens in minutes. Sometimes, hours. Sometimes, days. I believe suffering is a gift from our beautiful God to make us more hungry and desperate for him. But, given my choice, I would just turn the lights off, lay in bed and let depression and anger swallow my soul. But he doesn’t allow that. He has something better.
God is good.