“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
Let’s imagine a few scenarios:
Chrissy’s husband left her, with no good reason other than he was tired of the responsibility of marriage and a family. Where was God?
Susan found a box of condoms in her husband’s closet (and they didn’t use condoms); now she is divorced. Where was God?
Beth was married with two kids. She dealt with the addiction of her husband for more than fifteen years; now she is divorced. Where was God?
Leesa was 45 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured chemotherapy and a mastectomy. Where was God?
Brit was a mother of one when she found out she was pregnant with twins. She lost one child mid-pregnancy, and the other was born with genetic and heart issues. Where was God?
Katie, the mother of five, discovered her teenage daughter had been assaulted and become pregnant. She’s now a grandmother raising another child. Where was God?
Dana was the mother of three children, ages four, seven, and nine; her husband was killed in a car accident with a teenage drunk driver. Where was God?
I wish I had made up these stories, but I didn’t. I know each of these women. And I know hundreds more like them, with stories just as horrible and heart-breaking.
In fact, I would wager that you resonate with at least one of these scenarios. We all know that life can be beyond hard. In fact, as women who love God, it may seem that our lives are sometimes–dare I say it–even harder?
Why does God allow these horrific things to happen to us? Does he just up and leave us? Hasn’t he promised to protect us, those he loves?
What do we do when we walk through raging rivers and blazing fire but don’t feel the promised peace?
What do we do when we don’t experience the promised accompaniment?
It’s okay to be sad, even as Christians. It’s okay to acknowledge we’re hurting, and it’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to say we don’t understand. It’s not irreverent to wonder what in the world is going on.
We call out.
We tell God that we’re scared and we don’t understand. We ask him to reveal himself to us in new ways. We ask him to fill us with peace, even if we don’t feel it.
We reach out.
We tell someone we’re struggling. Keeping it to ourselves will only add to our burden. Find even just one person you trust and say your words out loud.
But mostly, we learn to be okay with the mystery.
We absolutely must.
One day I was having a talk with God about all the brutal ways the women in my life had been hurt, including me, and I could barely take it anymore. The weight was too much to carry.
From my journal:
These experiences have brought me to a place with you that not only have I never experienced, but that I hadn’t known was an option of how you might choose to respond to one of your hurting children. But here’s the thing: all this pain and all these months of silence have paradoxically brought further clarity to your mystery. Your mystery was a rumor to me before; now I’ve seen it firsthand.
I had come to a place of embracing that God’s ways are higher than my ways, that if he were truly understandable to me, then he wouldn’t be all that mighty of a God. Who wants to follow a God that resembles them, who they can completely figure out?
The questions and the unknowns are what make up the mystery of God. And it’s the mystery that is part of the beauty.
Elisabeth Klein is a coach, course creator, author of more than a dozen books and e-books, and a speaker who helps women move through the transitions and crises of their lives into hope. She loves Jesus, her husband, their growing brood of young adult children, their grandson, and her friends. You can learn more about Elisabeth here.