June 15, 2009
by Wayne Stiles
The fall season often reminds me of the day when one of my daughters learned to ride her bike without training wheels. (The “fall” was an appropriate time for this event.)
As she sped down a hill toward a huge ravine, I saw written all over her face the message: “I’m not in control!” So as she flew by me, I reached out and lifted her off the bike—saving her from the ravine but causing her to fall. As the bike launched into the abyss, my rescued daughter hopped up hotter than a hornet!
“Why did you do that, Daddy?!” To answer, I pointed to the bottomless gorge I saved her from . . . but she still couldn’t believe that I would cause her to fall.
Years later, I pondered how we can carry this attitude into our relationship with God. The words of one woman make this clear:
"I was raised in a conservative church where we were taught to seek God’s guidance. But I’ve concluded that all that teaching was a crock! Where was God when I needed Him? Why didn’t He give me a better family? Why didn’t He let me marry better men? God knew what was going to happen to me. He could have stopped it. But instead He’s letting me wallow in misery. It’s not fair."
The Christian life should bring the good things in life, right? God’s powerful love should protect us from having awful families, from miserable marriages, from losing our jobs, from losing a child, or from having accidents only “other people” have. So when reality hits, God becomes the scapegoat—because He could have stopped it all.
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). King David’s honest prayer reflects our own cries, doesn’t it? Nothing aches so badly as God’s apparent apathy.
Our culture points to our pain as proof that God doesn’t exist; but the devil uses our pain to convince us that God doesn’t care. (Take a moment and read that again.) And if Satan can get us to doubt God’s goodness, we stand on the edge of a life that uses our anger to justify sin.
But notice, David not only expressed his feelings of abandonment, but he affirmed his faith in God’s goodness—even though he could not see it: “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation” (v. 5). Even within the blur of seeming betrayal, David clung to God’s good character.
As parents, we can all understand why I jerked my daughter off her bike. But as a child, she lacked the capacity to understand my actions as coming from a heart of love. She couldn’t see past her pain toward the reason I allowed it—and even caused it. As God’s children, we often lack this same insight.
If we acknowledge our Father’s goodness only in the pleasant things He allows, we yield to a childish nature that misses an astounding part of God’s love. We miss the wonderful growth we can experience from praising a good God who uses even our pain for our advantage.