Perhaps you are among those who have struggled to comprehend a particular heartache and God's reason for allowing it. A thousand unanswered questions have been recycling in your mind—most of them beginning with "Why...?" You want desperately to trust the Father and believe in His grace and goodness. But deep inside, you're held captive by a sense of betrayal and abandonment. The Lord obviously permitted your difficulties to occur. Why didn't He prevent them--and why has He not attempted to explain or apologize for them? The inability to answer those fundamental questions has become a spiritual barrier a mile high, and you can't seem to find a way around or over it.
For some of you, your sorrow can be traced directly to the death of a precious son or daughter. Your pain from that loss has been so intense that you've wondered if you could even carry on. What a joy he (or she) was to your heart. He ran and jumped and giggled and hugged. You loved him far more than you valued your own life. But then, there was that horrible morning at the pool, or the ominous medical report, or the accident on the bicycle. Now your beloved child is gone, and God's purpose in his death has remained a mystery.
For someone else, there will never be anything as painful as the rejection you were dealt by an ex-husband or wife. The day you discovered the infidelity, or when the divorce papers arrived at the door, or that unforgettable night of violence--those were indescribable moments of heartache. In some ways, it would have been easier to have buried the spouse than to see him or her in the arms of another. How could that person to whom you gave everything be so cruel? Many tears were shed as God was begged to intervene. When the marriage continued to fail, disillusionment and bitterness rolled over you like a tidal wave. You've said you would never trust anyone again--not even the Almighty.
I'm thinking also of the widows and widowers who are trying to survive on their own. If you are one of them, you know that very few of your friends fully comprehend. They want you to get over this loss and return to the business of living. But you just can't do it. For so many years, your marriage was the centerpiece of your existence. Two separate human beings truly became "one flesh" as God intended. It was such a sweet love affair that could have gone on forever. In fact, when you were young you honestly thought it would. But suddenly, it was over. And now for the first time in many years, you are truly alone. Is this what it all comes down to?
My mother never did recover from the death of my dad. He left her suddenly at the family table one Sunday afternoon at 66 years of age. Though she lived 11 years beyond that day, her heart was broken and it never healed. She had built her life around the man who swept her off her feet in 1934, and she simply could not face the future without him. My mother didn't blame God for his passing, but she suffered nonetheless. This is what she wrote in her diary near the first anniversary of my father's death:
People have told me that the first year was the hardest. It's been one year and three days since you died, and tonight I am frantic with longing for you. Oh dear God! It's more than I can bear. The sobs make my heart skip beats. I cannot see the paper. My head throbs. The house is lonely and still. Visions of you have been as real as if you were here and had not left me. Today I thanked God for letting an angel watch over me. But how desperately I missed you!
It is very cold outside. Last night, a sleet storm covered the earth with ice and then froze into a solid crust. The streets are slippery and dangerous. I hate it. It makes me feel blue, frightened, and alone. I dread the winter to follow. It will last for three more months.
I moved into the smaller bedroom today. I wish you were here to share that room with me. There are precious memories there. When I was ill four years ago, you prayed for me in that bedroom during the midnight hours. You lay on the floor, agonizing in prayer for me. We both knew the Spirit was praying through you. Later the Lord led us to a doctor who helped me find my way back to health. Oh how I loved you. I love your memory today.
What a special lady my mother was, and how profoundly she loved my father! She is with him in heaven now. But there are other widows and widowers out there who loved just as deeply and now must face the future alone. I extend to each of them my love and prayers as they take one day at a time.
There are so many other sources of pain. I am mindful of those among my readers who are hurting for less catastrophic reasons, such as adult children of alcoholics, those who have been overweight from childhood, those who were physically or sexually abused in the early years, and people who are blind, quadriplegic, chronically ill, etc. I'm also concerned for the single mothers who wonder how long they can carry the load that is on their shoulders. A million different scenarios exist, but they all point to a similar kind of frustration. And most of them bear theological implications.
By Dr. James Dobson