Recently I was asked to respond to the prompt “Why does God let bad things happen?” for a writing assignment.
How does one answer this question satisfactorily? It’s of course the question that comes into our hearts and minds when something we can’t control is happening in our own lives. I did my best to answer from an imperfect, mortal, and human perspective knowing that for some no answer beyond God own words spoke right into their ears would sufficiently satisfy when this question arises.
One thing I was struck by when trying to answer this question was the different ways Jesus shows up to suffering in the Gospels. In some cases, like today’s Gospel at the start of His ministry, he shows up and performs miracles. He drives out demons and later this week will make the mute speak and the deaf hear. In some cases, he weeps with us like when his friend Lazarus dies and he pauses to share the emotions of his friends who just suffered a terrible loss. And then he responds to suffering in the most profound way – by taking up the cross and walking the hill to Calvary.
In these responses, I think God shows us that no matter what happens, God will walk with us in our suffering. God will listen to our cries and cry in response. God will pick up the cross and suffer alongside of us. And God will provide the healing we need even if not exactly in the way we demand it.
Right now my heart is with so many around me suffering in a multitude of ways. I know they are tired. I know they are uncertain. I know they are afraid. And I know no answer I give this question will do. So my prayer this morning is for God to shower abundant grace on all who need it today – May everyone who needs to feel that God is in it with them feel God’s hand upon their face. And may we all do what we can to walk with one another today.