By Rob Furlong
Behind the Connecticut shooting tragedy that took the lives of 27 innocent people there lies an unspoken question that most of us have struggled with at some time or another — “If a God of love truly exists then why did He allow this to happen?”
Regular readers of this column may well ask what this question has to do with the subject of relationships and that is fair enough. At the start of this New Year you may find yourself in the middle of a relationship breakdown or perhaps your partner has been diagnosed with a severe illness and the future that once seemed so bright with promise has now become both fearful and uncertain. Painful moments in life threaten our security, can exact a heavy toll on even the closest of relationships and cause us to question whether or not God really does loves us.
Karen and I have been blessed with a wonderful marriage and a close relationship but six years ago when I was in the middle of a physical and psychological burnout our marriage was put to a severe test. We argued more than we ever had in our relationship, continually misunderstood each other and lived with the constant tension that results from excessive strain on a relationship. There were many times in this process that I asked myself why God was allowing this to happen to us and why was I sick. I am not suggesting that my problems are on the same level as those experienced by the folk in Newtown or of those who have suffered much more than I can ever imagine but the question was still very real to me at that time.
Some have suggested that the best way to deal with pain in our lives is to simply accept the fact that our perception of what is real is wrong. We live under the misguided notion that the world around us is what is real when in fact it is all an illusion. If we would only realise this then we could set ourselves free from unnecessary pain and find peace. This might bring you some comfort from the disappointment of not receiving the Christmas gift you desperately wanted by convincing yourself that you did not really need it after all but it does absolutely nothing to alleviate the real pain felt by a real person dying from an all too real cancer. In fact, such trivial advice will acutely heighten the sufferer’s pain.
The only sane solution that I have found to this problem of pain is found in a manger in Bethlehem. God sent His Son Jesus into our world of pain and suffering to live among us. He healed people. He loved them. He treated them with dignity. And for His efforts, He too suffered and died but then rose again. He stepped into our world of pain - He steps into your world of pain - and gently reminds us that we do not walk this path alone. He is there to comfort, guide and strengthen us through the dark journey…if we invite Him to.
This is what I rediscovered six years ago at my lowest moment in life. And as we committed ourselves to trusting Him through the dark days we also committed ourselves to each other and to the task of listening, supporting and honestly communicating with each other. And here I am, six years later, writing this column and more certain than ever that a good God does exist, that He loves us and that He has not abandoned us.
Whatever you and your husband, wife, family or friend is facing this year, don’t give up on God — He certainly has not given up on you!