Thursday, April 12, 2018

Is God worth it?

Is God still worth it even after mental illness kills your kid?

That’s a tough question, but not a rhetorical one for many parents.

James said, “…the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up

For years, Ann and I laid David at God’s feet.  For years, we prayed for protection and provision and healing and hope.  But on a cold January night, he died alone on an uncovered, blood-stained mattress from an illness-induced overdose.

In the days between David’s death and his memorial service, Ann and I wrestled with a lot of questions.  The most important question was this: “Is God still worth it—worth our love, our obedience, and our hearts—after we prayed so much but He didn’t ‘raise up’ David?”

I know my answer, but I also know that your answer might be different.  So, let me point you to two Scripture passages that might help you with any struggle you may be having around this question.

The first is in Hebrews 11, the “faith” chapter: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for, to be certain of things we can’t see…”  The chapter lists many ‘heroes of the faith’ like Abraham, Noah, Joseph, and Rahab.  The faithful.  Prayer warriors.  Followers.  Blessed by God for their confidence, courage, and devotion.

But Hebrews 11 also says this about others with great faith: “There were others who were tortured…  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword…”

The same God heard the blessed and the tortured, the victorious and the stoned.  He didn’t rescue them all, but all of them, including the persecuted, remained confident and certain.  Not confident that they’d be saved, but certain that He’s worth it.

The other’s in Daniel, chapter 3.  The pagan king ordered Daniel’s friends to worship a golden idol under threat of being thrown into a blazing furnace.  They refused.

They said: “If we’re thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your hand.  But even if he doesn’t, we’ll continue to [worship only Him].”

In the end, God miraculously saved them.  But their pre-furnace, confident message communicated to the king (and to us centuries later) that they were certain that He’s worth it.  They didn’t know they’d walk out of the furnace unharmed, but it didn’t matter to them.  God, in their minds, was worth all worship, praise, and obedience regardless.

God doesn’t promise healing or rescue, and we all have first-hand experience that prayer isn’t a magical tool that makes God create the outcome we want.  Sometimes He heals and rescues, and that’s great!  And we naturally praise and worship Him during those times.

But He’s no less worthy of our worship, praise, and love during the most difficult times.

That’s a tough message to wrestle with, I know.

If you’ve gone through (or are going through) tough times and are still on the mat wrestling with God about this question, don’t stop until you get your answer.  You need to be confident.  You need to be certain.

If you’re anything like me and countless others, you’ll learn that He is worth it.  Worth it all, and then some.