“What a long, strange trip it’s been” is an album title from the 60’s band Grateful Dead; it also sums up the last five years of my life here in Texas. I moved here from L.A. on September 29, 2013 and it has been quite the roller coaster. There were more hardships, losses and disappointments than I can count—but, just as many blessings. Each time I was at the end of my rope, God provided an inch more. When the other shoe was ready to drop, I tap danced. He’s taken me to the precipice time and again, yet I never fell off. Why? I leaned on the Everlasting Arms and trusted in a faithful Savior.
Still, there are times when bad things happen to everyone, when enough is enough, when life becomes so intolerable, so painful, all we can do is get on our knees, look up and cry out to God, “Why?”
For the last seven years, I’ve been taking great comfort in a devotional called, “Streams in the Desert.” It is a compilation of writings from godly authors on the theme of Christian suffering, put together in a little book by a woman who watched her missionary husband suffer for many years before he died. I came across this particular article attributed to someone simply as J.H.M. It’s in the public domain, so, I thought you’d be encouraged by my sharing it with you:
“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
Mary and Martha could not understand what their Lord was doing. Each of them had said to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” And behind their words we seem to read their true thoughts: “Lord, we do not understand why you waited so long to come or how you could allow the man you love so much to die. We do not understand how you could allow such sorrow and suffering to devastate our lives, when your presence might have stopped it all. Why didn’t you come? Now it’s too late, because Lazarus has been dead four days!” But Jesus simply had one great truth in answer to all of this. He said, in essence, “You may not understand, but I am telling you that if you believe, you will see.”
Abraham could not understand why God would ask him to sacriﬁce his son, but he trusted Him. Then he saw the Lord’s glory when the son he loved was restored to him.
Moses could not understand why God would require him to stay forty years in the wilderness, but he also trusted Him. Then he saw when God called him to lead Israel from Egyptian bondage.
Joseph could not understand his brothers’ cruelty toward him, the false testimony of a treacherous woman, or the long years of unjust imprisonment, but he trusted God and ﬁnally he saw His glory in it all. And Joseph’s father, Jacob, could not understand how God’s strange providence could allow Joseph to be taken from him. Yet later he saw the Lord’s glory when he looked into the face of his son, who had become the governor for a great king and the person used to preserve his own life and the lives of an entire nation.
Perhaps there is also something in your life causing you to question God. Do you ﬁnd yourself saying, “I do not understand why God allowed my loved one to be taken. I do not understand why afﬂiction has been permitted to strike me. I do not understand why the Lord has led me down these twisting paths. I do not understand why my own plans, which seemed so good, have been so disappointing. I do not understand why the blessings I so desperately need are so long in coming.”
Dear friend, you do not have to understand all God’s ways of dealing with you. He does not expect you to understand them. You do not expect your children to understand everything you do—you simply want them to trust you. And someday you too will see the glory of God in the things you do not understand.