For quite sometime, I didn't think it was the "christian" thing to do to express any questions. I grew up in a fairly legalistic church---do this, don't do that, and don't question why. Or if any of us did muster up the courage to speak that three letter word, we were often told because "God says so." It took me sometime to be comfortable in my own skin to explore outside of those limited boundaries to really think about what I was claiming to believe, and to wrestle with God's truth. In all honesty, I am still figuring out my faith, and I have come to the conclusion that the more I dig, the fewer answers I sometimes find. Maybe that is faith--trusting God enough to ask Him all of your questions.
As Christ followers, we tend to use the verbiage "God blessed me with _____, or God provided ______, or God watched over me because _______." And to be fair, I know those words have come out of my mouth a time or two. I am not saying that there haven't been times of God's blessings, or of His provisions, or of His care. I just can't help but wonder about all those who fall on the other side. The side that appears cursed, the side that feels lonely and knows hopelessness.
Just today I was a part of a conversation where someone said, "and that is when you believe there is a God." Of course that that was something good that was received that caused belief.
It's easy to feel as if God is on your side when you are blessed with that new car, when you are blessed with a bill of health, when you are blessed with that new job, when you are blessed with faithful friends, when you are blessed with food on the table..... But what about the guy who's only option is to drive the car that continues to leave him abandoned? What about the mom who is told she has stage 4 cancer? What about the man who gets rejected interview after interview? What about the transgendered teen who has been abandoned by all friends? And what about the child who hasn't had dinner on the table for three nights?
Why does God pour out grace to some and it seems as if He is holding back grace on others?
I could answer that question by the Christian cliches we all have heard:
"Well, God's ways are higher than ours."
"When God shuts one door, He opens another."
"You know, God has a plan in all of this."
Please hear me, I know that God's ways are higher than mine and I do believe God opens and closes doors, and I know without a doubt that God has some grand plan whether I see it or not, but in the midst of heartache, and pain, and rejection, and disappointment it's hard to lean into that truth that God is good, and that He has a plan to prosper us.
I remember last July, I went biking with some friends (all of who, by the way, were in much better physically shape than I). I knew this going in, but I also like a good challenge. I knew that they would push me to go further than I would ever push myself. We ended up biking 20 miles one way---meaning, we would have to bike 20 miles to make it back home. With about 10 miles left, I had nothing. Everything hurt, and I wanted to get off that bike more than anything! But as much as I wanted to get off that bike, I also didn't want to quit, I didn't want to be the one who just couldn't do it. I wrestled with myself. I cried. I fought. I struggled. I prayed. I got angry. I got determined. I beat myself up. I cheered myself on. And in the end I finished--on my bike, making it back to the cabin.
To this day, it's not biking 40 miles as an accomplishment that sticks out. It's my wrestle. I prayed--I mean prayed for God to give me the strength to stay on that bike. And in those last 10 miles (that felt like a lifetime) I remember vividly with how angry I was at Him. You see, in offering up my prayers for strength, I had hope that I could feel my feet, that my legs didn't feel as if I was tearing my muscles in two, and that I could just find a spot on my seat that didn't bring tears to my eyes. I wanted the pain gone. But He didn't take it. I wanted to know that I could do this. But I never received His calming assurance. I doubted with every peddle.
This feels like such a lame story to share how ugly our struggles of this world can be, and how good God is. Riding a bike is nothing compared to what many face. I know that. And in all honesty, I don't know why some see God's grace abundantly and others experience little of it. Why God's blessings seem to favor some, and miss others. Why God's care seem enough to some, and lacking to others. All I know is that in the midst of our troubles, in our doubts, in our questions, in our pain, God is in the midst of it--whether we feel Him there or not. Perhaps on this side of things sometimes our blessings hide among our struggles, in our pain and in our failures. Perhaps a door of His goodness will be opened, perhaps it will not. Perhaps He will take away our pain, perhaps we will carry it until our last breath. But wherever you are, I challenge you to keep looking for Him. Because I can guarantee you He is there. And for that, I know He is good.