Why God makes us uncomfortable
The word ‘uncomfortable’ is a Big Time understatement when you consider the people of Israel who were slaves under Pharaoh. Now think about those times you’ve truly been stretched, stressed or strained. While many psalms sing the praises of an ever-present, always-loving God, there are also psalms that wonder where God is during times of duress.
A comment a friend made several years ago sticks with me. He said he was okay when it came to his suffering. He cannot understand, however, why God either allows for or does not eradicate the suffering of children.
He is not alone. If God is so good, people wonder, why are not far more good things happening in this world? If God really loves us, the thinking goes, why do we hurt?
Every story is different, but a commonality in all of our lives is suffering. We all experience pain. In fact, some of us never seem to be without pain. Why does God allow this?
Sin is a consequence for our pain. The notion of choices and consequences seems a little cheap here, a little shallow, but we do reap what we sow.
Some suffering, however, is inherited. We are handed the sins of our forbearers. Then, too (and this is obvious), some of our suffering just happens to us in this fallen world. The toddler with cancer, the victim of violence, and the poor soul who just happened to be in wrong place at the wrong time tell us that we cannot make sense of why we hurt. Yet we can all do better in response to suffering because God does have something to say about this.
When it comes to God speaking—and then doing something about it—let’s reconsider those people of Israel, those enslaved who are eventually set free.
Ah, freedom, they think. Hooray!
Wandering in the desert may not seem like a bad lot, at least at first. This changes quickly. The moans and groans mount. The freed slaves longing for home and happiness are hungry, thirsty, and tired of being displaced.
Yet God does for them what God does for us—He provides. For them it was manna and quail (Exodus 16). At first, the weary travelers are puzzled by this. We may also be puzzled when God provides for us, and how God provides for us.
Our church and community just held a benefit for a family of faith in need. The rally and support amazed not only the family, but also the community. This was one great rally of love and of care. You can think like a scoffer, secularist or humanist and suggest that many just did it, or they did it out of the goodness of their heart. I invite you to think differently, however. God uses us to provide for others.
The takeaway from the people of Israel receiving daily provisions is clear. God is God. What God wants is (one) our dependence on Him, and (two) our praise of Him. One way we praise God is by seeing what those who follow Him can do.
The takeaway from psalms of pain and sorrow is that we do have a God who will hear us. (He will also respond.)
The takeaway from the benefit is also clear. We can do something in the face of suffering. We can care. We can act. We can rally. We can love. These actions are our God within us doing what God does, which is calling us out of ourselves in service for others.
And the One who served (and serves) us best is Jesus.