I began the “Life” page at my website with these questions: Why life? Can it really be that all we are is the product of an evolutionary cesspool? Are we nothing more than animals? Is the purpose of life really nothing more than “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”? Do wealth and fame really bring happiness? Is there more to life than pain, sorrow, and suffering sun spotted with a little joy? Is the little joy all we live for? So what?
Is there more to life than pain, sorrow, and suffering sun spotted with a little joy? Hmmm? I must have been in a real funk when I wrote that, but isn’t it so often true that our lives really are a series of events that bring pain, sorrow, and suffering? In the grand scale of things, I suppose the following two early childhood memories are not that grand, but they were powerful enough to have left lasting impressions. They are not like the death of a brother-in-law, the death of a wife, or the death of a nephew that would later cloud my life. They are, however real experiences that at the time felt foreboding and filled me with a long remembered fear.
Both events involve great amounts of water, rain that is. The first was when I was in first or second grade. Maybe even third-it’s hard to separate those years. Dad had just finished overseeing and paying for the construction of an adobe wall that fenced the downhill border of our property. The wall represented safety and security for us. Just as the wall was finished, a torrential rain swept through our little town in very rural Bolivia. The wall could not hold the wet, and the wall collapsed. A second wall replaced the first, and my memory is that our family huddled together in deep and earnest prayer as the rains continued that this wall would not also succumb to the elements and collapsing leave us vulnerable.
The second event was in a near following year. I was in the fourth grade and away at boarding school. The wide, flat valley in which the school sat must have been susceptible to flooding, the waters held back by a dam. Whatever it was the head masters told us, it inspired fear; and we, the children of the school, huddled together in our prayer groups pleading earnestly to God that the dam would hold the torrential rain waters and spare our valley and our lives.
It is these seasons of pain, sorrow, and suffering that often cause us to wonder about the presence of God. It seems more often than not that God gets blamed, but a clear reading of the Word of God should lead us to an opposite conclusion. What we find is not that God is abandoning us but that He is ever present working out His good and perfect will for us. No, He doesn’t always or maybe even often answer the questions that arise from our suffering, but He does promise that the suffering death and conquering resurrection of His only and beloved Son declares our forgiveness and redemption. That very Jesus has become our intercessor pleading our case before the Father. And, no matter what the circumstances-be they big or small, there is nothing in all creation that has the power or authority to separate God’s love from us.