My sophomore year in college, a year after I had become a Christian, I called God out. I had known about my mom’s terminal illness for a while, but at about that time she started showing visible signs of the disease. And for the first time I saw that the road ahead was going to be an excruciatingly hard one.
But while I began to realize just how much my mom was going to suffer, God’s Word conflictingly declared that He was good. That was a huge disconnect for me.
In a grassy field of a Colorado park, I called God on the carpet. I was hurt, furious and scared. I felt like I deserved some answers. I let Him have it.
“You say You’re compassionate and loving,” I told Him, “but what about the fact that my mom is losing the ability to walk? That she’ll eventually have to have all her food blended in a blender and drink from a straw because her swallowing muscles have disintegrated? What about the fact that we’ve had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her twice this month because the food that she loves to eat is choking her? Where’s Your compassion in that? Where is Your love?”
He didn’t answer.
I kept fighting. And thinking. I recalled what my friends had told me about God—that He was working for His glory in every situation. That infuriated me even more. “I guess we’re all just pawns in Your plan, aren’t we?” I told Him. “You have the ability to heal her quicker than I can snap my fingers, but You don’t. You say it’s all for Your glory. For Your GLORY? You allow people to be stricken just so You can get some applause? You’re heartless!”
He took my punches. But again, He didn’t answer.
I sat in the park in silence for a while. I started mulling over passages I had read in the Bible. Passages like when God wiped out His “chosen” people just because 10 of the 12 spies didn’t think He was big enough to destroy the descendants of Anak in the Promised Land. Or passages like when God zapped Uzzah because he tried to keep the ark of the covenant from toppling over. After some more serious Scripture distortion, I had myself convinced that God was just a glory-hungry Deity who didn’t give a rip about me or anyone else.
I was going to walk away from Him altogether. I didn’t want to follow a heartless God.
But then I started reviewing what I knew about Jesus. I thought about Jesus healing the sick. Jesus tenderly talking with a whore. Jesus heroically fighting against anyone who kept His children in bondage. Jesus forgiving the sinful thief as He hung dying and bleeding for people who had brutally rejected His love. Jesus promising to return and make things right.
In every other sense, I could write God off as an arrogant God who just wanted His way. But if that’s the kind of God He truly is, why did He Himself come to die for me? Or for anyone? Jesus threw a rock-solid wrench in my thinking.
To this day, God hasn’t responded to my questions about my mom. He hasn’t parted the clouds to explain to me what purpose her suffering has. I’ve had so many other wrestling sessions with Him like that one in the park that I can’t even count them. I’ll come to Him, arms flailing, heart hurting from the pain of watching her hurt, trying to take some shots at Him. I’ll scream and sob, begging for some kind of explanation.
He takes the blows. He offers no explanations or excuses. And as I’ve cried, I’ve felt Him—literally felt Him—wrap His arms around me. He’ll let me beat His chest with my fists and throw out all of the accusations I have until I calm down and recognize He’s there. Then, in my spirit, He’ll lovingly walk me through the process of reminding me who He really is.
He offers no explanations for my accusations. He offers no excuses. But He’s given me an answer to my questions, the same Answer I ran into that day in Colorado, the only answer that’s big enough: He’s given me Himself.[Laurin Makohon is the assistant editor of YouthWalk magazine, a devotional magazine for teens published by Walk Thru the Bible Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. She and God have been doing a lot of wrestling lately. God wins every time.]