This is a question that I see more and more frequently these days. I get it — I’ve been there. I’ve felt like I was so abandoned that either there wasn’t a god, or he felt like I was his red-headed step-child. I felt like my life would be easier if the Judeo-Christian standards that had been pounded into my head since birth would just dry up and blow away.
Thankfully, God loved me through my anger, hurt, and despair. He waited until I was ready, and then he called to me again.
There is no doubt about it — life hurts. Sooner or later, something terrible happens that we don’t deserve. How could God exist, be perfect, love us, and stand by and let all of this evil happen? Many people shake their heads and walk away because they can’t make sense of it.
I have come to learn that there is a short-sightedness in this perspective and that there truly is a way for God to still be a loving, caring, and protective God through all of it.
The questions I listed above are kind of looking at our life as if our existence on earth was the sum total. In that case, existing would be very miserable! But, the truth is that we existed before we came to earth, and we are going to exist after we die. That means we don’t always see justice and mercy played out perfectly — we’re only in the second act of the play!
Does it seem unfair to have to wait for things to be fair? Absolutely! At least, if we want to hold onto the idea that this life is all we have. If we choose to turn to God and His Son, Jesus Christ, we get this wonderful gift called HOPE. Hope gives us the opportunity to see beyond the moment and anticipate better things to come. It also gives us the ability to suffer for the benefit of someone else — just ask Jesus about that one. He was sinless, and he suffered for each and every one of us to give us a chance to return to our Heavenly Father after we die.
The Perfect Premise
As a teacher, I may have a slightly different perspective the purpose of life than people in other professions, because I see what it takes to learn everyday. I have to present children with things that are just a little bit beyond their reach. Then, as long as they are willing to pay attention and follow me, I lead them along — step by step — through a process of practice and discovery until they have mastered the new skill. I refuse to give answers, but I give guidance liberally — as soon as someone asks. Daily, I see tons of emotions in my classroom: disbelief (that I would ask them to do something so hard), discouragement, hope, determination, and the joy of accomplishment.
The scriptures are filled with evidence from God that this is exactly what we are to experience here on earth. We are in an eternal classroom. We will eventually leave school, whether we graduate or not.
Is there evidence of this outside of the scriptures? I say yes. Study after study suggests that self-esteem is not something that can be given to someone else. True self-esteem and happiness come not by avoiding obstacles and adversity, but by OVERCOMING them as events unfold.
Now, if God sent us to school, he would have to set things up so that we would encounter hard problems. He allows us agency to choose whether we want good or evil. He knows many will choose evil, and he allows those who make bad choices to affect the lives of the innocent. The innocent are then in a position to use their agency — will they sour on the things of God, or will they turn to the Savior to find comfort, healing, and guidance? The choice is ours.
If you were to ask me outright if I believe that God enjoys all of the suffering on the earth, I would emphatically answer,” Absolutely NOT!” Just as I have never enjoyed watching my kids struggle through problems in their lives, but I have let them struggle knowing they could overcome and they would be better for it. I believe in a God that hurts when we hurt. I believe in a God that truly, truly wants each and every one of his children to taste of his goodness and his love. I believe in a God that offers comfort and support to those who love him and keep his commandments — or even truly try!
I believe because I have lived through my own personal nightmares. I believe because I tried to make it through some of those nightmares on my own, and then I learned to humble myself and trust God. I believe because, even though he didn’t take the trials away, he gave me enough insight to see the divine benefits not only for myself, but for my loved ones who experiences adversity with me. I believe because I finally gathered enough courage to try faith.