I attended the memorial service for the mother of a dear friend of mine. This friend is my age, and we have known each other since junior high school. It was much too soon for her to have to say goodbye to her mom. I was deeply touched by everyone who shared memories and thoughts and prayers. I marveled at the joy and pain mingling together as we sang songs of worship. Our pastor stood up to share. He began to talk about how we each encounter situations in life that don’t make sense, that seem too difficult to be God’s best for us. We all ask God the question, “Why?” He listed the many famous men of the Bible who asked why. Then he made a statement that cut to the core of my being.
“There was one ‘why’ that swallowed up all the other ‘whys’,” he said, and I instantly knew what he was talking about.
Jesus, hanging on the cross, became sin and cried out from the anguish of his soul, “My God, WHY have you forsaken me?”
Jesus knows how we feel as we navigate through this journey called being human. We all suffer pain, heartbreak, sickness, and loss. We all have our faith shaken and our knowledge stripped and our understanding emptied until all we can say is, “Why?” Jesus was at the very same place Himself, and He put himself in that place on purpose so that we didn’t have to be there alone. He is always right there with us, whispering, “I understand…and someday you will too.”
And love’s voice answers from a cross:
“I bear it all with you;
I share with you in all your loss, I will make all things new.
None suffer in their sin alone,
I made – I bear – and I atone.” – Hannah Hurnard
God made us for Eden which means “delight” and “pleasure.” We were made to live in perfect shalom; peace, nothing broken, nothing missing. But our world was plunged into darkness and put under a curse because of sin. The effects of that gloom always seem so wrong and unfair and foreign to us. That is because they are. We were created for something better, something perfect.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis
While we are here in the Shadowlands, we have a unique and very short-lived opportunity that we will never have again once we have crossed over into glorious eternity. We have the privilege to have faith in something we can’t see. Faith in a good and amazing God. Faith that all things will be redeemed and restored. We have the chance to touch our Father’s heart as we praise Him through our pain.
Rick Joyner received a vision from God in which this was shown to him in a marvelous way.
“I saw the Father. Millions and millions were attending Him. His glory was so great and the power of His presence so awesome that I felt the whole earth would not have even measured as a grain of sand before Him…His robe was composed of millions and millions of stars which were alive…I knew I could dwell before Him forever and never cease to marvel; there was no higher purpose in the universe than to worship Him…
“Then I was in a different place, beholding a worship service in a little church building…Everyone in the battered little room…were experiencing severe trials in their lives, but they were not even thinking of them here. They were not praying about their needs. They were all trying to compose songs of thanksgiving to the Lord. They were happy and their joy was sincere.
“I saw heaven, and all of heaven was weeping. I then saw the Father again and knew why heaven was weeping. They were weeping because of the tears in the eyes of the Father. This little group of seemingly beaten down, struggling people had moved God so deeply that He wept. They were not tears of pain, but of joy…
“Jesus turned to me and said, “When you worship without seeing His glory, in the midst of your trials, this is worship in Spirit and truth…Do not waste your trials. Worship the Father – not for what you will get, but to bring Him joy. You will never be stronger than when you bring Him joy, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
One Sunday at church I was inspired by a testimony of a woman who had been miraculously healed of cancer. I love it when God’s power is so visibly demonstrated here on the imperfect earth among broken humanity. I clapped and cheered for this one soul who had received a death sentence and then had that terrible pronouncement revoked.
But I was deeply touched and moved and undone by something else. A man who had recently lost his wife to cancer was raising his hands to praise God for the healing of another. I felt my heart deepen and stretch to try to contain the grandeur of that one small act. I thought I heard heaven weeping because this man had so touched the Father’s heart with his praise. The greatest victories of the Christian life occur when we suffer crushing earthly loss and still praise God! The “Whys” get swallowed up by such praise and we get catch a glimpse of the world we were really created for.