6. When the answer from God is “no” and the suffering continues
David sinned, and Nathan recorded that sin, and rightly predicted to David that the child of the sin would die. David “fasted” and “endured the sour grapes with his teeth on edge”, but God’s answer was still “No”. When the child died, David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and came into the house of the Lord. He feasted on bread after his fast, and it was butter and honey and sweetness for him again. That is the story of suffering, first a prayer for deliverance, then with the “no” answer, a recovery - all in a nutshell. So recovery even from the “no” answer is possible.
(There will be grief over the lost thing, and that grief and its recovery are not dealt with here, but in “Travelling Through Tragedy, Carrying Burdens and Managing Life’s Unavoidable Sadness”, by the same author.)
“Make thy way plain before my face”. God did for Stephen in his death. He did for John Baptist, and He did for Jesus Christ. There are profound moral judgments in these cases who suffered in terrible grief what they could bear. Then they said, “Forgive them…. “. We may not suffer more than we can bear according to our character, but we will suffer. To suffer is His purpose with us.
It is most difficult for groups in their collective prayers to pray for those who are very ill and dying. It is hard for us individually to pray for those who are suffering when the likely answer seems “no”. Our solutions are not God’s solutions and we learn that often, so how can we pray for recovery, or for a quick uncomplicated death? The loss of confidence with importuning recognizes a need to place something more with the importuning. After the importuning prayer for relief, we know now that the very best prayer we can offer is for God to be there in the sickroom, or the torture house, or with the person of unsound mind, or with the person who endures falsehood.
It was said at the time of the plague in London, that God had turned His face away and was “asleep”. That is the opinion of those who are not close with God. Many people in a time of suffering with no relief in sight find an excuse to go from God, but not those with a Godly purpose.
Those who suffer early in life often exhibit a remarkable maturity and those mature enough know that the characters of abusers suffer more than they realize. The dehumanizing of people in terrible suffering from wicked regimes does not dehumanize the sufferers, even if that is the aim. It dehumanizes only the abusers. If it is unrealistic to talk about suffering when one has not been there, so we must leave it with the victims to speak. They see the inevitable dehumanization of the tormentors as they continue to inflict pain on sufferers. Those hurters only hurt themselves.
The mentally ill trying to reconcile a life out of control, often feel dehumanized and that they can never get it right. No one can live, like Macbeth, in the dark night devoid of moral purpose, and where life has no value, and no inherent point to it. So how each one is delivered from the suffering he endures is between himself and God. It is only for us to stand by and praise God for His gift of life in the face of the victim’s death or despite, supporting when we can.
Abraham blindly carried out God’s seemingly pointless command to commit the unthinkable, to bind and sacrificially murder his only child. In the light of His promises to Adam to replenish the earth, and to Abraham of fathering a great nation, it was illogical. Human beings in their search for truth bow to things that are beyond their understanding and reason. It was so for Abraham’s religious and faithful attitude, for he was almost beyond human terms at this point. We cannot reason that circumstance out. So, blessed is the man who does not need to know the answers to every question. The perfection of Jacob over his lifetime is a remarkable, evolving thing of God, with plenty of “no” answers. We cannot question that, but we can try to understand God’s unique way with us.