When I learned my dear friend was killed in a car accident this summer, I was stunned. She was my second mom, and a faithful wife, mother, and friend. She was unforgettable. And her life was snapped so abruptly that I couldn’t process it.
Immediately I turned to the Lord. In this sick confusion, this shocking storm of fear, this sudden disruption of a beautiful existence, I cried out to him.
And I heard nothing. Absolute silence.
This unsettling sense of abandonment appeared to contradict Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Why was it that when I most needed his presence he seemed most agonizingly absent?
As C.S. Lewis so bluntly asked in the midst of his own grief, “Why is he so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”
God was totally sovereign over the scene. This truth felt more painful than comforting in the aftermath. Mere seconds or inches, and she could have been spared. Her end was not random. It was at least allowed, if not orchestrated, and this terrified me. God, who I trusted, wrote this suffering into our story.
So, when you’re tempted to distrust what feels like an absent God, what do you do?
First, I Ran
In turmoil, I unburdened my soul to my dad. “I’m afraid,” I told him. “God not only allowed this; he willed it. I’m terrified of the one I need help from. What do I do?” He answered me with Proverbs [18:10]: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
“We only have two options,” he counseled. “We can choose to run toward God or away from him. Running toward him is scary sometimes — he’s massive and powerful. But running away from him is even more frightening.” God made me realize that we can’t lose hope in him when things are hard. We must petition him untiringly, like the persistent friend in Luke 11.
God reminded me that his ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). After all, the worst event to ever occur — the murder of his Son — became the most wonderful thing for us, securing our salvation and revealing the supreme glory of God.
We must run to God in joy and sorrow, happiness and pain, life and death. And we are promised this: if we draw near to him, he will draw near to us (James 4:8).