On July 24th I found out my 17-year-old sister, Sarah, has cancer. Shocking, horrible news. But I did not lose faith. My God is Healer; He is Faithful and Good. He remains these things whether or not He heals my sister. (However, we did get a little bit of good news after that - the kind of cancer she has is treatable with chemo even at this stage, and there is a good chance that the chemo will take care of everything.)
No, I did not lose my faith and confidence in God. But I did let myself get a somewhat grim outlook on life.
I began to think back on some things from earlier in my life. I have already lost a sibling to death, 11 years ago. A year before that, another little brother got his foot run over with a lawnmower while I was babysitting. Two years before that, the same brother burned our house down while I was babysitting.
Destruction. Divorce. Disease. Death.
I too often contemplate the meaning (or seeming lack thereof) of life; so all this dwelling on the hard things caused me to be even more negative - I couldn't understand why everyone wants to bring children into such a horrible world where they will suffer and hurt and then, eventually, die.
Last week I got to attend family camp in Ohio. Our morning speaker, Rev. Pat Wilson of Madisonville, Kentucky, spoke the first morning on how God created the universe, and how Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8)...he spoke on a lot of very profound things, but those things were a reminder to me and helped me to redirect my thoughts to a more balanced viewpoint.
God IS Good. God created everything and every human. He has good plans for and goodwill toward us (Jeremiah 29:11). Pain is not what God wants for us.
But He knew we would experience it. He knew we would fall from grace and choose our own way over His. He prepared for it and planned for Jesus to shed His blood for our redemption. He knew that sin and evil bring pain and suffering, and that we all would be afflicted because of the collective bad choices of humankind.
And He created us anyway.
Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for good for those who love and obey Him. Pain and suffering are definitely present, and everyone experiences it. God blesses both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45); likewise, both "good" and "bad" people experience heartache and trouble, too. But pain and suffering do not change the fact that God's plans for us are good; and they do not affect His ability to work all things for our good.
God knew we would suffer. But He put us here anyway. And God is good, and so is His plan for us. This tells me that, even though I will hurt and I will suffer...it's going to be okay. God will redeem my pain and sorrow and use them for my good - somehow - and, whether things go the way I expect or not, everything is going to be okay. My good God is still in control.