Many thousands of people, caught in the grasp of some personal tragedy, have said, or least thought: “If God will do so, He can cure me.” When trouble comes and human solutions fail, most of us think of God. And our first reaction is the same as that of many people – if God were so inclined, He could solve this problem and set things right.
But we are well aware that most personal tragedies do not turn out with a happy ending. I have known, and so have others, that many people prayed for a deliverance that never came. Faced with a problem beyond their own solving, they sought the help of God. But the disease was not healed, the financial relief did not come, the broken relationship was not restored.
The question then becomes, where to we go from here? For a moment, place yourself in the place of those people. Some of us can do that rather easily. All we have to do is remember, because we have been there. Others could be there right now. We may be struggling with a problem, and we are thinking that God could solve it – if only He would. In our heart, if not on our lips, is the prayer: If you will, you can cure me. God, you can help me, your can lift my burden, you can solve my problem. But suppose that doesn’t happen, then what?
Some people have responded to that kind of experience by giving up their faith in God. Many people have felt that way at one time or another. It is not at all unusual for people to doubt the existence of God, or the care and concern of God. Jesus Himself cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” If we take that question at face value, it means Jesus felt that God had failed Him, had let Him down at the time when He needed Him most. Anyone who takes God seriously will wonder at times where He is, what He is like, and why He doesn’t do something.
But to get rid of God, to banish Him from our minds (if, indeed, we could do that) would not solve our problem. If we believe in the God of love whom Jesus revealed, then we are faced with the mystery of evil and suffering. If we do not believe in Him, then we are faced with the mystery of goodness, truth, and beauty. Any road that we choose to travel in this is mysterious. And the Christian faith has never pretended to explain all the mysteries. It has simply offered a way of living triumphantly, even in the midst of problems.
And one way to do that is to remove ourselves from the center of the picture. There are days when the entire agony of the world sems to be focused on our own personal tragedy. It is understandable that we would feel that way when our minds are reeling, and our hearts are breaking. But after a while, when the fog of gloom begins to lift, we will see things more clearly, we will recognize that we are not the center of the universe.
We must understand that the primary purpose of God in this world is not to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Even Jesus never expected God to take care of Him in the sense of sheltering Him from trouble. From the beginning of His ministry. He recognized that His commitment to God would lead to suffering. Still He stayed committed. Remember Jesus that last night in the garden? What was He doing there? Three times He prayed, ‘not My will, but Yours be done.”
That is our answer. If we go through life expecting ease and comfort, we are sure to be disappointed over and over again. If, however, we recognize a higher purpose and give ourselves to it, we can build a rugged faith that will see us through any tragedy that life may put in our path.