[reprinted from June 5, 2012]
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, saying, “Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves to you. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from the furnace. He will save us from your power, O king. But even if God does not save us, we want you, O king, to know this: We will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (NCV)
I believe the single most troubling aspect of my relationship with God – is how He decides to work in a given situation. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego summed it up for me in these few verses.
God can do all things. Period. There is nothing in my life that He cannot handle. He has set all the stars in their respective orbits. He has every beat of my heart continuing on until He says “stop”. Every tiny piece of kelp and every multi-ton whale is in the ocean where they are supposed to be.
There is no “furnace” of suffering that can be thought of by any despot of evil that God cannot stop with a thought and destroy without lifting a finger. The One who gave my grandchildren such beautiful blue or green eyes has enough love inside of Him to surround us with His love for eternity.
Why does God allow millions to be slaughtered in concentration camps, prisons, in the streets by people who are just plain evil?
Why are children dying every day from abuse and cancer?
I know this is a ‘fallen world’ and evil does exist. But the suffering of the ‘innocent’ ones is difficult to accept. I know that God’s understanding of how everything is to evolve and ‘end’ cannot be compared to my limited understanding. I know it is God who has the wisdom to bring everything together for ‘good’.
When I am walking down the path that God has chosen for me and has sent Jesus and His Spirit to guide me, I walk in this way with Him and wondered how God is planning to unfold this aspect of my relationship with Him. God can heal and save – but is that in His plan and will He do it? Suddenly I am no longer discussing a theological point. I am living it.
So often I am talking about my relationship with God in these devotions. When the road gets rough and ‘bad things happen to good people’, I find myself drawing closer to God. I strain to see His nature and who He is more clearly. I already know from experience that I cannot meet with Him and get in His face. I can shake my finger at Him and know that He will not turn away. I have learned through my living with God that even when I do not understand, I will not change my allegiance to Him. I may cry out to Him and weep for the suffering that I see. But I know that even in these times of troubling tribulation, God will be there to hold us and listen to all the questions, and even answer a few.
So if you are going through a difficult time or are reading stories of great suffering and wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” God is the same place He was since the beginning of time. Right here. Ready to give strength to the weak and comfort to those who have a great need.
Do you believe when God can and does? More importantly, will you praise Him when He doesn’t?
Peace Like A River, an African-American Spiritual sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir