Cornerstone

“It can be painful, quite frankly, to wrestle with hard questions about God in the midst of a world full of suffering and perceived injustice.”

A lot of struggle in my life has come about because I am a Christian.

Ok there, I said it. 

My parents, in all their completely well-intentioned love for me, told me I was brainwashed after I became a Christian and started getting involved in church. Later in life, they struggled deeply with my choice to date and eventually marry someone who was in ministry. While we are at peace now with these issues, we exchanged many hurtful words as we often battled more than we worked to understand each other’s perspectives.

I struggle in my work as a nurse because I think sometimes it would be so much easier to believe that anyone and everyone goes to Heaven at the end of their earthly life. At times I feel like I could comfort others, and quite frankly, comfort myself in all the death and dying I see if I was not a Christian.

I struggle in my public writing and speaking as a nurse, because I can take neither the easy nor the popular route in simply saying what the world wants to hear about personal resilience, and what real hope in the face of death looks like. I struggle with my ambitions and the temptation to immerse myself in building a reputation rather than choosing humility and godly boundaries, as I watch others “get ahead” in this work.

I struggle with many forms of media as they dangle the prosperity and power of the godless in front of me, teasing me with its lies about the good life, a seeming lack of timely justice, and what I seem to be missing out on because I'm a Christian.

With the Psalmist in Psalm 73, I confess:

2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

12 Behold, these are the ungodly,
Who are always at ease;
They increase in riches.
13 Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain,
And washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all day long I have been plagued,
And chastened every morning.

21 Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.

I appreciate that the Psalmist does not shy away from expressing perplexion at the permitted evils in this world, as he echoes many of my own heart’s questions. Like the Psalmist, I falter when I think I can judge God’s worthiness by looking solely to personal or collective circumstances in this world. If I look only to earthly realities of struggle to be ultimate determinants of truth, I will see an incomplete picture and may then be tempted to draw not only incomplete but inaccurate conclusions about God Himself. While God is undeniably active and sovereign in our present-day world, this is a world for the worldly (Hebrews 13:14), with Satan himself as the ruler (John 12:31). 

It can be painful, quite frankly, to wrestle with hard questions about God in the midst of a world full of suffering and perceived injustice. But it is only when I look less to the world for answers about reality, and more to God Himself, that my soul can finally come to rest. We are like people who awaken from the most vivid dreams to an even greater reality (vs. 20).

15 If I had said, “I will speak [foolishly and ignorantly],”
Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.
16 When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for me—
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

What I am slowly beginning to understand, so many years into my Christian faith, is that worldly circumstances can never truly tell me who God is and whether He is worthy of my life. Only the person of God Himself can. Because Christ has made the way for me to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16), I come into His very sanctuary with my struggles, only to find His right hand has already been holding me all this time in the midst of all my frailty and doubt and complaint. I find that in fact, it never really was my right – or my burden - to judge or decide whether God was worthy. He doesn’t call me to stand on the periphery and judge; He invites me to enter the sanctuary of His presence and simply behold the fact that He has always been and always will be worthy. It is because of the simple but profound assurance that “truly God is good to Israel (vs. 1),” that my soul can do nothing else but respond,

28 But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord God,
That I may declare all Your works.

Alina Sato

Alina is a member of Cornerstone and serves the church as a servant minister.

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