He sat by the well and questioned why. Though it wasn’t expressed at first, my greeting opened a door and he risked being vulnerable.
In his arms he securely held his little grandson, who was both enthused and calmed by the falling water; a momentary peace in his daily struggle with autism.
The peace didn’t transcend to his grandfather. He hurt. He was angry. Whose fault was this anyway? What kind of life was this for him and the people who loved him? Imprisoned in a body that seem to function with a will of its own, the young child lunged at the water outside his reach. His grandfather drew him close and rubbed his frail little back; a gesture to console them both. Though his questions were plentiful, he verbalized only a few. The deeper, unspoken ones emanated from his eyes and begged to be satisfied. What could I say to lighten his load? What would you have said?
Maybe you, like this grandfather, have had life experiences that leave you questioning. All through the ages God’s people have wondered; even while holding to their faith. Read the Psalms and hear the questions from David’s heart. In the book of the Bible that bears his name, listen as Job pours out the confusion and anguish of his soul. Walk the road with the disciples in John 9 as they ask Jesus why a man they had come upon was born blind.
David, in his seeking, came full circle to praise God. Job, in the midst of his questioning trusted that his Redeemer lives. And the disciples were told by Jesus that the blind man’s suffering was for God’s glory. His glory? How could this be?
It’s certainly a hard concept for us to wrap our minds around because our understanding is focused on the temporal circumstances of life, not the hidden eternal benefits. Thinking beyond what we see doesn’t come naturally. But, given Jesus words, we have to ask ourselves, what kind of people would we be if pain and trials never touched us? Given our fallen nature, would we earnestly seek God? Would we be willing to examine our hearts? Would we be humble, compassionate or sensitive to others?
People who go through trials with God are not diminished from their brokenness, they are strengthened. Think, for a moment of the people who deeply touch your life ~ someone you are drawn to for genuine comfort ~ and chances are good, they have endured suffering. Have you gone through the agony of loss ~ a death, a broken relationship, a wayward child, a shattered dream? Who would you seek for solace? You don’t want theory ~ you want someone who has walked the path with Someone who has seen him/her through.
So what would you have said to the grandfather? I gave him no answer. How could I? I don’t occupy the Throne where that knowledge dwells. But I could genuinely encourage him with hope that comes from Jesus Christ. Despite our unanswered questions, our painful circumstances and aching hearts, there stands the Creator who has placed an eternal soul in each of us that will one day be released from the bondage of earthly suffering. It will not be based on our abilities, accomplishments, intellect or good works, but on the redeeming work of Jesus Christ who absorbed our sins and resulting weaknesses and suffered to give us life ~ abundantly, eternally.
Though for a time we may walk sorrow’s path and ask why, God’s love is overriding it all until the day He delights to bring his children Home. And there the questions will melt away; for in the glory of His Majesty, in the warmth of His love, in the illumination of His light, we will be made whole and forget the sorrows.
Our sufferings are never wasted in God’s hands. Paul said “I consider these present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:18) Not ~ Even ~ Worth ~ Comparing. Given the magnitude of suffering that exists in this world, that is an astounding promise of hope. But Paul could proclaim it because he knew that God’s design was for good and He would work to bring it about even through our hardships.
That includes an autistic child who will live out his earthly days with uncontrolled motion and indiscernible sounds. Even when no answers are given this side of heaven, this little boy is tenderly loved by the Savior who will one day stretch out before him all eternity unshackled from human suffering and limitations. And He will do that for you and for me because we have placed our faith in Him. What more could we ask?