I cried out to God as King David did while he was under much distress: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest” (Psalm 22:1–2, NIV). I asked God, Why my daughter? Why my family? Why me? My cries and questioning led me to an important central question: Why does God allow suffering?
Through this experience, I’ve learned that suffering can many times accomplish three things:
1. Suffering Points People to God
The pain we experience in life often forces us to turn to God because pain cannot be ignored. Many times in the midst of suffering, people become aware of their need for God.
C. S. Lewis wrote prolifically on suffering and found that, contrary to popular opinion, God often shows his benevolence through allowing pain in people’s lives. What most people view as “bad,” God works for “good.” As Joseph exclaimed in the Bible, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20). In our case, more than 3,000 people are being influenced daily as they follow Annie’s journey on our Facebook page.
2. Suffering Allows Us to Experience Joy and Comfort in God’s Grace
The last 11 months could not have been possible without friends and family serving and supporting us. My husband, Chris, has been an amazing support, and my son, Christian, moved in to help me through July, and many of Annie’s friends and my friends have served us with their time and efforts. They show up with meals, take over household projects, and visit—over and over again.
I am a natural “doer,” so getting to all of the appointments and organizing doctors and assessing options have all come relatively easy to me. But sitting with my sweet baby girl for hours on end while she struggles through pain I cannot address takes an emotional, mental, and physical toll that is, at times, beyond my abilities. I have struggled with frustration and even shame over this weakness, but as I acknowledge my own limitations, God has provided friends and relationships to fill all the gaps. Countless friends have shown up faithfully to sit with, talk to, and even stay the night with Annie when pain keeps her awake. As friends keep showing up for us in innumerable ways, we continue to be overwhelmed by the fullness of God’s grace and provision.