How can you trust God after He has allowed evil and suffering to tear through your life?
My friend Joanna has known pain that I cannot even imagine. She experienced horrific abuse for many years of her childhood. Today, she says that she loves God–and I know that she does–but she wonders how she will ever be able to trust Him.
Perhaps you have wondered the same thing. Perhaps your suffering causes you to feel confused about the goodness of God. If so, then my letter to Joanna is also my letter to you:
You have experienced incredible pain.
These painful pieces of your journey are like holy ground to me, and I take my shoes off here. I do not speak flippantly to you.
I do not know the why’s of this evil. There are things in this battle that we do not understand. But I do know this: God will redeem everything that is given to Him. It is certain that this was egregious evil, but it is even more certain that the judgment of God will not fall short or be lacking.
These were awful things, but God will turn them inside out one day. He will satisfy the cry for justice, and He will satisfy your bewilderment. He knows something that we do not know.
How can God tolerate such incredible evil? I do not know how He can stand it. But I am confident of this: He is more tenderhearted than we are. He is more compassionate than we are. Our protest of evil is nothing compared to His.
Your suffering has exposed enemy territory—territory which God now purposes to overwhelm with His forces of victory. As you declare His ownership of these areas, God will push back the forces of evil and will powerfully advance the Kingdom.
Every hurt is a place for a promise, and ashes are the seeds of great beauty. You have many hurts that you can redeem for promises, and you have ashes that you can bring to Jesus. When ashes are allowed to smolder, they bring destruction and deformity. But overshadowed by the Spirit, those same ashes can be exchanged for beauty and glory.
We can pray, “God, I cannot imagine how You can do anything with this—it is such total devastation and heartbreak. It is death. It is beyond my ability even to speculate how You can transform any bit of this. But as Your covenant partner, I am holding on to Your promises. I do not know how You can create anything beautiful from this, but I am asking You to do that, all the same.”
God’s commitment to justice will include these very things from your life, dear friend—the specific deeds of darkness and the specific acts of evil that you have experienced. God’s desire and power to heal are greater than the deepest wound. He knows how to bring water from rock, and how to make the desert bloom. He knows how to bring life from death.
God has made immense promises to you. You see no way in which He can keep His promises, but that is okay. He will keep His promises. It will be more glorious than you ever hoped or imagined.
“For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17, HCBS).
God is up to this. That’s how big He is. Marvel at Him. You do not have to know how He can do this. God just wants you to trust that He will do something bigger than you can imagine. He longs to dazzle you.
God promises you this, dear friend: whatever you give to Him, He will transform. The things you suffered will always be evil, but they will lose their power to destroy you. They will lose their power to make you destitute in spirit: God will make you rich.
The enemy “intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20, NIV).
It is easy to see how the enemy intended these things for destruction. But what does God intend? He intends to redeem!
The LORD God turns curses into blessings for you because He loves you (Deuteronomy 23:5).
It is far too trite to say, “You will learn some good things from this.” That would not be sufficient, would it? There must be more.
This is an evil that we cannot really measure; I know I can’t. It is too much. In the same way, I can’t imagine a “good” that would be good enough to redeem such pain. I can’t imagine a “glory” glorious enough to outweigh that suffering. But God can!
You do not need to settle for pat answers and trivial assurances. Wait with expectation and confidence for something much greater. God promises something so incredible that it will be more incredible than the pain. We do not know of any such glory, so we are deeply grieved and we despair of the goodness of God.
But listen: God does know. He does know of a glory that will satisfy your soul. He knows something that will be bigger and deeper, something so GLORIOUS—we do not have big enough words, but something so AWESOME—that it will cause you to fall at His feet and worship Him and adore Him and marvel at Him and love Him like never before.
You will not be disappointed. You will not say, “Lord, this glory—it isn’t enough.” You will say, “Lord, I didn’t know! I could not have imagined this! Yes, Lord, my soul is satisfied!” You will be well satisfied, fully satisfied, completely satisfied. You will never come to the end of your delight in Him.
“The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23, NIV).
For God to do such a thing would be an absolute miracle, wouldn’t it? It would completely amaze us and take our breath away, wouldn’t it?