Faith: 1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something. 2. A strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual beliefs rather than proof.
Confidence: 1. Having an absolute certainty about something. 2. The belief that one can rely on someone or something. 3. Firm trust in someone or something.
God-fidence: 1. Complete trust and confidence in God. 2. Faith.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1
This past week in America the unthinkable happened. Twenty beautiful, innocent, young children aged between five and ten years old and six of their teachers were killed when a gunman walked into their local primary school just after 9am and began his devastating shooting rampage.
Up until a few days ago, the biggest crime reported in sleepy Newtown, Connecticut was the vandalism of the historic cemetery overlooking the picturesque Elm Drive. And now, just days before Christmas, all over the world, people like me are mourning and grieving along with these families. And, asking a lot of questions.
Author Lee Strobel commissioned a survey several years ago where he asked people what question they would ask God if they could only ask Him one thing. The number one response was this: “Why is there suffering in the world?”
- Why should parents have to bury their children?
- Why is our world so full of heartache and disappointment and despair?
- Why is there disease and death?
- Why do innocent children have to die at the hands of a gunman?
- Why does tragedy have to invade the lives of so many families?
- Why does God (who “loves us so much”) allow this sort of suffering?
- Why should I put my faith and confidence and trust and hope in a God who allows these terrible things to happen?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why? Why? Why?
In John 16:33 Jesus said “You will have suffering in this world.”
Not “maybe”. Not “possibly”. It will happen. Suffering. Death. Disease. Tragedy.
I don’t like this answer.
Today I read a story about a farmer who watched a beautiful mocking bird begin to build her nest in a heap of branches that he had pruned and left in a bundle beside the house. All day long the bird worked to build her nest and in the evening the farmer destroyed all the work she had done, scattering tiny twigs everywhere and crushing them under his feet. The next day the bird patiently began building her nest once again. And again, in the evening the farmer destroyed all her hard work.
Immediately as I read this story, I thought: this farmer is mean-spirited and cruel. Why would anyone do something like that to an innocent bird? But I was judging by bird standards. I couldn’t see the bigger picture.
One the third day the mocking bird began to build her nest in sheltered tree that stood just near the farmer’s back door. In the evening the farmer smiled at the bird and let her work remain. Day after day she continued to build her nest until it was complete. She soon laid her eggs and warmed them beneath her wings. But a long time before her eggs hatched the pile of dead branches that had been pruned from the tree where she had started building her nest were taken away and burned. If the farmer had allowed the bird to have her way and build her nest in the bundle of dead branches, her little ones would have been destroyed. She could not see beyond one day. But he saw the end from the beginning.
In difficult seasons I have discovered that I have ‘bird-like’ vision. I can’t see beyond today. I only see what is in front of me. I can’t see the big picture. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. I see things “imperfectly, like blurred and puzzling reflections in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). What I see now is “partial and incomplete”.
It is in these difficult times that I need to develop my God-fidance. I need to develop an overwhelming assurance and confidence that God is in control despite what it looks like to me. It is in these dark and awful seasons that I need to put my trust in Him and Him alone. I need to be solely dependent on His power and strength. It is when I am touched by hearing of tragic stories such as what just happened in Newtown, Connecticut that I need to put my faith in Him. God-fidance.
I know that having God-fidance does not mean that I won’t fear, or that I won’t have doubts. It does not mean that I will have it all together. Nor does it mean I have an answer to that question: Why do bad things happen to good people. It simply means that I will have a assurance and a confidence about the things that I cannot see.
Why did a 20-something year old young man shoot his mother and then drive to a local primary school and shoot another 26 people?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
I. do. not. know.
All I know is that everyone deserves to live out their lives with happiness and purpose and tragedies like this should not be tolerated. As US President Barack Obama said “We can’t accept events like this as routine. These tragedies must end. What choice do we have? To end them, we must change.” He then goes on to encourage Americans to find the strength to carry on and make the country worthy of the memory of those whose lives were tragically cut short.
I believe the only place this strength will be found is in God. Instead of blaming God and questioning Him, I pray that each person affected by this tragedy would turn to God and think of Him as the farmer. He is the One who can see the end from the beginning.