Three Questions We Must Leave at the Cross

Where is God when life falls apart? This isn’t a new question, but a question we often ponder when it seems we have lost everything . . . or something . . . or someone. During these difficult times, we feel that God is so far away.

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Years ago, a dear friend of mine experienced a series of catastrophic calamities. Identity theft left her bank accounts empty. Hurricane Sandy took her home. An affair ended her marriage.

And her son was diagnosed with autism. In her shattered state, even those at her church walked away from her. They did not know what to do with someone whose faith was falling off the cliff. So instead of staying close, they scattered and churchy chatter ran amuck.

She didn’t know if she could move on.

There seems to be one universal experience shared when our lives are shattered: an abundance of questions. In addition, if one has trusted Christ as Savior, pain seems especially unfair.

And it doesn’t help that many people—often Christians—try to fix our shattered selves with unsolicited advice, misquoted Scripture, and a good dose of judgment.

Most often, pain and loneliness are connected at the hip.

Maybe you or someone you know is suffering. I am so sorry. Being human and broken often don’t make sense. Our questions about God and truth and what to believe are endless, and during times of suffering, many of these questions go unanswered.

But to find peace, we must let go of these questions and put them at the cross. It may help to know I live with pain very few know about. I’ve asked God just about every question, and I’ve learned He can handle my questions.

Like my friend, I have learned to accept the truth that my Lord made me, and He has the right to choose what to reveal and what to withhold. We don’t serve a mean God. We do serve a sovereign God who has a plan for our lives.

And Scripture promises that pain is always part of that plan.


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Questions We Wrestle With

If you are in pain, I bet you are wrestling with some questions. That’s okay; we all have them. However, God may not answer in a way that will satisfy you because life isn’t about satisfying us; it’s about surrendering to Him.

I have found three specific questions to God we must place at the foot of the cross in order to finally be at peace.

  1. Why did You allow this to happen? (. . . which really means, “I don’t like this, it’s not fair, and I have a right to receive a reasonable answer!” Ouch!)
  2. Who or what caused this? (. . . which really means, “I want to blame my problems on someone else because I’m angry and unwilling to accept what has happened!”)
  3. When will You fix this? (. . . which really means, “I believe I have a right to be more comfortable and happy, and this is getting in the way!”)

Let Me Hear from You

Do any of these questions echo through your mind? Do you think you’d be happy if the Lord answered them? Do you think your circumstances would change or your longings continue if He answered them?

Actually, these questions reveal much about our human nature—our pride, selfishness, demanding attitude, and bitterness—character issues Christ is refining in us as we kneel at the foot of the cross.

In our comments section, I would love to hear about your questions and offer you care and comfort—which come at the foot of the cross. By the way, my friend made it through those awful years and is one of my heroes today.

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14 thoughts on “Three Questions We Must Leave at the Cross

  1. I used to ask these questions. I had a car accident a few years ago that forced me to resign from my legal career and I was not happy about it, and so I began to ask God why this happened to me. I had been a faithful stay-home mom to seven kids (no, Colleen, I have no idea why we had so many…lol) and I returned to college in my later years and had this awesome legal career that I loved. But it ended suddenly. As I sought God, I realized that we are not of this world, but we do live in this world and so we are susceptible to all the same challenges as anyone else, but I also knew that God would turn this around to His glory. I always loved to write and so I took some college literature courses to polish my skills and I began to write.

    Then, when I faced death’s door with cancer five years ago, I didn’t ask why this happened. I just froze in fear for two days and then with worship music surrounding me 24/7 I began to sense His presence, and so I gave it to God. I studied the scriptures and spent time in prayer and worship and I realized that God not only loves me, but He has the power to beat anything this world can throw at me. And I knew that by His stripes I was healed (Isaiah 53:5). Today I am cancer-free, but I still live with the results of the accident and I’ve never been healed from chronic edema that presses on my injuries and leaves me no stranger to pain, which means that I’m not able to walk for more than a few minutes at a time. I don’t know why I’ve not been healed, but I do know that God is faithful and that in spite of my disability, I just want to live for Him. So, I write and share Christ with as many people as I can. In fact, I just published my latest book called, “God’s Calling…It’s for You”. (I told you earlier that it would be called, No Shortcuts to Heaven, but I believe that this title is the one God wants.) One thing I do know; looking back on my life I wouldn’t change a thing.

  2. We just experienced “the perfect storm” in pastoral ministry and the result is that we are now churchless. Our community of 17 years is suddenly unavailable to us, our spiritual gifts unemployed, our tears flowing, our hearts broken. My husband is near enough to retirement to be overlooked as a possible candidate for a new pulpit, yet has the desire to serve. We both are eager, yet very wary, to re-enter the world of church ministry. We will have to sell our home soon. We don’t know where to go.
    It feels like “suffering 401” and we are not the most willing grad students. We want a syllabus with the lessons spelled out–it would be so much easier of we saw God’s plan. All we understand at this point is Romans 8:28. It is hard to trust some days with such a general promise.

    • Oh my dear Kathy, I am so, so sorry for what you are enduring at this very moment! I am so sorry…if I could, I would wrap my arms around you and just let you cry or be however you needed to be at that moment; words can’t express this kind of a broken heart. Romans 8:28 and so many of God’s promises are extremely tough to believe when all you see is the depths of a dark valley which is why reaching out is vital. I’m so glad you did. I don’t know how or when the Lord will open a door…but I do know He will because He promises He will. I don’t know what His faithfulness and mercy will look like or how it will come to you; but I know it will because He promises to bring it to us. And I don’t know how His presence will feel but I do know He is present…with you while you are awake and while sleeping, while crying and laughing, while confused one moment and thinking clearly the next, while angry and also humbled…at every single moment, He is present asking you to trust His ways because He is perfect. Nothing you are enduring has not already passed through His divine hands; while it feels humanly crazy, it is Divinely purposed. So my prayer will be that you cling to Him, live in the truths of His word, reflect on all the ways He has been faithful to you in the past, find moments of silence each day to ask Him for His reassurance and some light and maybe a little laughter as well. And as time passes, your soul will grow ever deeper, ever stronger, ever more wise. Until then, keep connecting when in doubt, keep choosing to believe He is good and you will know Him as never before. Along the way, someone will cross your path who will need your help as they will have the carpet pulled from beneth their feet and will wonder all the things you are wondering now. You then, will wrap your arms around them, share your story, and help them along. That is what this life and trusting Jesus is all about. I will keep you in my prayers. Please let me know how you are doing. Always, Colleen

    • Kathy, while re-reading some of my notes, I came across yours. How are you? What happened as a result of “the perfect storm’? If its ended, that is! I also thought of a book I recently revisited titled “A Tale of Three Kings” by Eugene Edwards. He has a chapter on “the school of suffering” which had a profound impact on my life and sometimes still does. When and if you have some time, I would love to hear how you are doing. Most sincerely, Colleen

      • Dear Colleen,

        Yes–it is finished. My husband endured dishonor, slander, humiliation, lies, unwarranted anger, jealous rivalry and his ministry of 18 years ended with a whimper rather than any thanks or appreciation. We prayed Psalm 25 many mornings. Sadly, really, there are many good titles in Christian literature for situations like ours–we were given some of Edwards’ books and benefitted from them. We also are trying to get through Anne Graham Lotz’s “Wounded by God’s People” and have found great balm in Sarah Young’s devotional, alongside Spurgeon and Oswald Chambers.

        Our mornings begin with 2 daily psalms and we pray against bitterness and unforgiveness over and over.

        Sadly, the church lost about 1/3 of its members. We weep when we think of the pain echoing through those hearts. But, it is God’s church and He could have prevented it, so we rest in His sovereignty. I really resonated with the poem “The Thorn”

        The Thorn by Martha Snell Nicholson

        I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
        And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
        I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
        I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
        This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
        He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
        I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
        As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
        I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
        He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.”

        He has been with us, but not an indulgent Father–sometimes very distant.

        We are in the midst of cardboard boxes as we sold our home where we raised our kids and are downsizing to a 55+ community 20 miles from our old church. We are praying for new healthy relationships and a fresh start. Dan, my husband, has been offered a position as an administrative chaplain for 39 Presbyterian Retirement Villages/Homes. He will conduct best-practices workshops in four states and serve as the pastor/chaplain at our local Ware Presbyterian Village the rest of the time. So, we are limping along–been hard on our marriage–but we will endure. We have said it is like trying to hold tight to someone when you have a sunburn.

        Our four children, by God’s merciful hand, are still walking with HIm and are committed to serving in their respective church bodies. We thank Him daily for that blessing. They have been wonderful in support of our changes.

        I have kept journals for most of our years in ministry and am considering writing a book entitled “Death by Ministry” by looking at how He asks us to die little deaths until we are, indeed, like Christ, whose was Ministry by Death. There are so many hard things asked of us as ministers–I am so thankful for our Jesus Who stands on the waves as we sink like Peter. Stepping out of the boat and walking to HIm is an every day obedience.

        So we keep on keeping on, praying for healing grace and a future and a Hope. I’m glad we win.

        • Oh Kathy,
          What a note…I couldn’t get through it without some tears; the poem is magnificent. I am so very sorry for all you have endured! In my human nature, I feel outrage and anger for you; yet in God’s greater plan, I must rest and pray for your restoration. That is a slow, measureless effort. How hard it is to see our growth until the storm has much passed; what you have read and are reading is wonderful material for healing. My prayer is that you are comforted by the comfort of others and by the great comfort of our Holy Spirit who intercedes for us…but by His grace do we make it through this life. I am forever in awe of how Jesus responded to the life he was given on earth…so totally unfair and unjust…so fully obedient in the midst of it all. And yes, He cried out to His Father many times as you are doing and have done for years. I would love to hear about your move and the hope that brings you both! Wonderful news that you have found a place that will hopefully provide rest and refreshment along with the work your husband will be doing. I am so grateful that you reconnected and would love to stay in touch when you have time. Please know I will be in prayer for you both. It is great to hear your children survived and are remaining faithful. That says a whole lot about how you chose to raise them and how you handled the pain. May the Lord bring profound healing and continue to use you both as you reach others who are wounded. What an honor it is to connect with you, Kathy. Thank you for the update. Colleen

  3. I am a why girl too. In my little mind I just think if God would show me a glimpse into the why, then it would be easier to accept it, or bare it. I know, by faith that he has a plan and a purpose and he will use it for his glory and some day we will all see the why but for now, just a peek might help get through some of those more difficult days. I know we have all heard or seen the illustration of a tapestry being woven together, how messy it is on one side but on the other side a beautiful picture is being woven. So just a preview of that picture, now and then would be nice!

    • Donna,
      I SO love the innocence of your note!!! I can’t tell you how many times I have said to the Lord… ‘you know, Lord, I’m not asking for the full mural…the whole KA-BANG…just a little ray of light would be ever so kind!”. Even though it does not come, there is beauty in that kind of authenticity! I just have to think the Lord see’s and knows how limited we are in our human condition and is filled with tender compassion. Even though we do trust, we know that faith is no seen; having the honesty to come to Him as a child and simply wish has to be touching. Donna, I think the Lord has all the room in the world for your wishes…hearing them and holding you close when He calls you to stay the course and keep walking by faith. I just loved reading your comment! Thanks for letting us in to your child-like heart; what a model for us all to hold in high regard. Have a blessed evening! Colleen

    • Hey Donna, I know we have shared comments since this was written but it caught my attention and I was wondering how you are doing with the whole “why” thing. In June, our interviewee shares his huge struggle with the same…”WHY?” when life doesn’t make sense. So you are not alone. Drop me a line if and when you have the time, I would love to connect. Colleen

  4. I have had my issues with the “Why:” why did God allow not one, but two, of my sons to have autism? Why did we have to move 6 hours away from family, when their support is something I really need right now? Why us?

    I have (most of the time) let go of the need for those questions to be answered. As heartbreaking as life is sometimes, there’s nothing we did to cause the boys’ condition and nothing we could have done to prevent it. For whatever reason, the Lord has allowed it into our lives, and after a good deal of emotional struggle, I had to just raise my hands and say, “Here is it is, God. I can’t do this anymore. This is our family and we are fine just as we are in Your sight.”

    I think I mentioned “Blessings” by Laura Story to you before – well this song was pivotal in helping me adopt a new perspective. Through the boys’ autism, I have met wonderful, caring people I never would have met otherwise. And through our move 6 hours from home, I learned to fully depend on God. And He has blessed me richly with sweet friendships here that I did not have at home, though I still miss my Mom and Dad. And God continues to refine my character and help me shrug off my fear of what people think of me and just do what I feel He’s leading me to do. Even as simple as finally being able to raise my hands in worship while leading the praise band at church. For a long time, I felt the urge to do that but suppressed it because I was afraid of being the only one. Now I don’t mind, and actually there are some others in our congregation who now go on ahead and raise their hands when they want to. Kind of silly, I know! It took me a long time to submit and now it really does sound silly. Baby steps, I guess!

    • Rohna,
      None of your note sounds silly! It sounds like you have submitted, surrendered, and stayed faithful through some of the hardest circumstances of life. We both know they will come and go but the truth is, you have persevered! How the Lord must be delighted with you! As I read your note, I thought of the many Psalms David wrote…from despair to devotion…how human we all are! Of course there is heartbreak and question and confusion; but there is also growth and a new perspective you would have never been given were it not for those very tough challenges. There is richness in it all…as we say in our family, the best seasoning for food is a hungry appetite. When we have barely survived, God’s abundance feeds and fills our soul as we may have never appreciated otherwise. What a joy it is to know your time of worship has become one of precious adoration, your fears have turned to courage, and in surrender to God’s sovereign will, He has graced you with His fruitful presence. What a great note to read; thank you for sharing how the Lord has and continues to be your shepherd. Colleen

    • Rohna, was just thinking of you today and wondered how you are doing? With summer coming, it can be awfully difficult…especially with 2 non-typical kids. If you have time, I would love to hear an update. Continuing to pray, Colleen