In my years in ministry I have seen a lot of things.  I have seen God do absolute miracles.  I have seen people that were supposed to be dead according to doctors, totally healed.  I’ve seen the most vile people that I thought were hopeless be transformed into new creations that were the opposite of their past.  I’ve had God reveal Himself to me in ways that blow my mind.  PRETTY COOL STUFF!

On the flip side, I’ve also seen some things that my Masters Degree and my “Doctor of Ministry” just didn’t explain.

There have been times when I’ve questioned God.  I’ve never questioned his existence.  I have just wondered what in the world He was doing or not doing in certain situations. As I mentioned in my last post, I have even felt wrongly that I have to look out for His reputation at times when it seems that He didn’t come through.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • Early in my ministry, I spent 3 nights sleeping at the foot of a hospital bed of a 2 year old little boy named Brandon.  His parents and I poured our hearts out constantly for his healing for those 3 days.  Our entire church was praying.  Brandon died.  God, where were you then?
  • I mentioned the miscarriages that Marla & I have experienced in my last post.  That was a hard time to work through.   Just didn’t seem “fair.”
  • I have a friend, Kyle Caddell, who has served God faithfully his whole life.  We played in the band, “U-Turn,” together, sharing Jesus in college.  Kyle later became a builder and was very generous with his money in helping people.  For the past 15 years Kyle has endured a tremendous amount of pain in his muscles and joints and the doctors don’t seem to know why or how to help.  He has now lost his home and can’t even work consistently because of the pain.  God, why is that?

Sometimes things happen that just don’t make sense to my little mind.  I could go into theological reasons as to why there is still evil in the world and possible reasons why God doesn’t always intercede, but that’s not really the intent of this post.   I can give a try at that later if some of you want me to do that.

I just wanted to say that if you know someone that is going through a time when things just don’t make sense, you don’t always have to have the answers.  What your friend needs most, even though they do want answers, is YOU.

Never is this more clear in Scripture thanthe book of Job.  In short, Job was hurting.  Though he had served God faithfully, God allowed Satan to strike him with boils all over his body. He didn’t even look like himself anymore.  He was actually scraping the boils off with broken pottery pieces.  (Job 2)

Job had 3 friends who loved him come by and they barely recognized him.  For 7 whole days, the four friends sat, cried, and were just there with job.  I believe they really ministered to his soul by their presence.  Then it all began to fall apart.  They opened their mouths.  They said some of the most ridiculous things trying to explain why things were happening to Job.  When their mouths opened, their cluelessness was discovered.

Our friends don’t always need us to have all of the answers.  What they need is our presence.  They need to know that someone representing God cares about them.   Sometimes they need to see God with skin on- that would be His representative or His Ambassador.  That means YOU!

I remember one occasion when a friend was going through a divorce.  Myself and another believer went to minister to the hurting friend.  I felt bad.  I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t say much but just listened as my friend talked about his pain.  I was so thankful that my other friend with the answers was there.  He seemed to have a lot of words and input into the situation.

The next day, the hurting friend called to tell me that he was thankful that I WAS THERE.  Bewildered, I thought, “I didn’t have any answers.”

My friend told me, “I appreciated the way that you just sat with me, listened, and didn’t say a word.”  (He said that the other guy talked way too much.)

When we don’t have the answers for people, we always have ourselves.  Just be there when they need you.  When everyone else is running away, BE THERE.

When there just aren’t any answers, BE THERE.  Sometimes your presence says everything that needs to be said.

Have there been things in your life that you just had to trust God as you walked through it, even though you didn’t understand?

Who really helped your soul through it?

(Disclaimer:  I called this “My Story” because this post contains my thoughts and story.  Obviously, the experience and pain was shared by Marla, our family, and our friends.)

Sometimes things happen that are hard to understand. We already had 1 ½ year old Rebecca when Marla came to me with the news. “I’m pregnant,” she said with a huge smile on her face. We were excited, to say the least.

It was hard to hold in the excitement. As Student Pastor at our church, our entire church was soon buzzing about the news. I think I was still smiling from ear to ear two weeks later when I got the horrible phone call from Marla. “I’m bleeding,” she said through the tears. Doctors confirmed that she had miscarried our second child.

As a pastor, I was the one that usually had answers for people. This time I felt hollow.  I had questions and thoughts that didn’t make sense:

• “Why would this happen to us? We’ve given everything to You, Lord. Why us?”
• “Lot’s of babies were aborted everyday. We really wanted this baby.”
• “How do I now go back and tell everyone what has happened and protect Your reputation as a pastor, God? You let us down.”
• “Is there something that I did that caused you to take Your hand off of my family?”
• “Maybe I didn’t pray enough for Marla and the baby. It’s all my fault.”

Well meaning people came to me with “pat” answers to questions that I didn’t ask them. They said:

• “Maybe there was something wrong with the baby…”

I Thought: Well, if there was something wrong with the baby, God is God and couldn’t he just fix that?

• “God needed another angel in heaven.”
I Thought: Babies don’t become angels. That doesn’t make any sense.

• “It was just God’s will…”
I thought: My God wouldn’t play with my life like that. He wants the best for me.

• “You can try again.”
I thought: It’s not like I can just get another puppy but thanks for your permission.

To say that it was a confusing time for someone who was supposed to have the answers was an understatement. I was hurt, mad, confused, and wondering if this God that I had devoted my entire life to even cared about Marla and I at all.  It shouldn’t be about “luck.”  God should take the “luck” out of all of this.

Out of all of the above thoughts that I had, the one that was wringing in my ear the most was this one: I didn’t pray enough for Marla and the baby and that’s why this has happened. I felt like it was my fault.

As the pastor, I knew that I would dispel those thoughts in someone that walked into my office feeling they way I was feeling. I knew what I would say to others but it just wasn’t working for me.

After a sleepless night, I got up and went to a Bible Study that some guys at the gym had every Wednesday. I had never gone but I decided that since I was up all night, a 6:00 a.m. Bible study couldn’t hurt anything.

After being welcomed by the guys who had been inviting me, I sat down and didn’t tell them anything about what I was thinking or what had happened.

The study that day was on John 9. That’s the passage where Jesus was asked, ““Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responded, “Neither this man or his parents, but this happened so that God would be glorified.”

I couldn’t believe that was the subject. God was speaking right to my heart from these muscle headed guys in the gym. I didn’t really get a lot of answers that morning but I did get one thing that I’ve remembered ever since.

God loves me. As I was wondering where God was in this nightmare, He reached out to me. He loved me enough to tell me through these guys who didn’t even know why they were leading the study on John 9. God reached down, put His arms around me, and said, “It’s not your fault. I love you. Trust me.”

When have you wondered if God really loved you? How has He shown you that He does love you?