photo by Pep Bonet in Sierra Leone
This is a post for all of you who have asked the question,
“Why would a good God allow such pain and suffering?”
Which means, this post is for me too.
I’m about to get real honest here and that’s hard for me, but I know that it often helps others when we are vulnerable about how we truly feel, and we often find so many others who feel how we do. (I think I say this every time I post)
Since around sixth grade, I’ve been vaguely aware of human trafficking.
By sophomore year, I knew I wanted to do something.
By junior year, I knew I needed to advocate for those with disabilities.
By senior year, I started to care about women and the friendships we have with one another.
By freshman year of college, I found out about so many atrocities that women have faced worldwide and decided I couldn’t just sit by any longer.
Sophomore & junior year of college have looked like much of the same — marginalized populations are my people, and I’m drawn to righting all of the wrongs.
Now, I know about the genocide in Rwanda, human trafficking worldwide, maternal mortality rates all across Africa, the civil war in Sierra Leone that left much of the population permanently marked, the genocide in Darfur, the atrocities continually commited in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the extreme poverty in India, the oppression of women word wide, the Israel-Palestine war, poverty overtaking children all across America, child brides all over Asia & Africa, food deserts in much of urban America, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and those don’t even begin to scratch the surface of human rights atrocities hapening all over the world.
The thought of all these people suffering all over the world literally cripples me at least once a day. I start crying, can’t eat, can’t sleep, or get irritated with everyone because here I am in America, whining about paying bills or not getting enough sleep when halfway around the world, a 8 year old girl is forced into marriage with a 60 year old man.
I’ve just been stuck thinking,
“If God is supposedly ‘so good’, why are all of these terrible things happening?”
Here’s the deal: I know God is good, I know He is faithful, I know that He wants what’s best for us — it’s just really hard to see how those things can be true for everyone when I see so much pain and unnecessary suffering.
I’ve been honestly struggling with it so much, that there was a time I could barely think about God without getting angry. When I would hear him silently whisper, or I would stand in worship, I couldn’t even think about Him because all I could think about were those struggling to survive day by day. This doesn’t make me a saint for thinking about the plight of others –
I am still incredibly selfish, careless, and rude.
Still, I refuse to abandon God over this because I know the good things about Him are true, but it’s very difficult for me to see the purity of His goodness when I see suffering. My heart cries for justice for those who have faced nothing but oppression, and I know that God is a god of justice, love, and hope. He does not leave us as orphans (John 14:18), He is not slow in keeping His promises (2 Peter 3:9), He loves justice (Isaiah 61:8), He defends the cause of the fatherless & the widow (Deuteronomy 10:18), and so many other beautiful things. I have truly seen these things in my own life, and I know them to be true.
I’ve been seeking God on this one, because I do not think this will remain “one of the mysteries of God” my whole life.
One thing I know He has said to me is, “I am asking you to stand in the gap.”
This is a Biblical phrase meaning, “to intercede (intervene) on behalf of.” In the same way that mortar between bricks holds up an entire wall, so our prayers and actions on behalf of others hold them up. This phrase is used in when God asks Ezekiel to “stand in the gap” on behalf of the Israelites in Ezekiel 22:30.
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”
I don’t want God to look around this earth seeking someone to stand before Him in the gap on behalf of his children, and find no one. I know there are many others all over the earth who are praying and doing things to help these people, and I am joining the ranks.
I can’t stand idly by and just watch this pain. That’s why this post is part 1. I seek to find out more ways to “stand in the gap”, and the part 2 post will come very soon. I am also seeking out God’s heart on these issues. I know that He loves His people and these things do not go unnoticed, so a lot of this journey will be getting to see Christ’s heart in it all.
I hope we can take this journey together of seeking out God’s thoughts on these issues and what He calls us to do about them.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9