After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life...” John 6:66-68
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know of anyone who had a crisis of faith when all was going well. But when suffering comes across our paths, then the "Why" questions start.
Why did this happen? Where is God in all of this?
The suffering could be personal or that of a loved one. It could be the inhumanity of humanity against itself at home or abroad. But when tragedy or injustice strikes, we can't help but ask these questions. Just read the book of Job. It's normal to try to make sense of what has happened. It's normal to try to reconcile this with our understanding of God. But just because it's normal doesn't make the resolution any easier.
People have abandoned Christianity because these questions could not be answered to their satisfaction. Some have adjusted their understanding of God as in "Well, my God would never…" Others may pick and choose what they will believe from the Scriptures. If the Old Testament bothers us, we will only read the New. If Paul bothers us, we will only read Jesus. If Jesus bothers us, maybe we should take a vote to see if He really said all those things.
Even though I don't agree with these responses, I can sympathize because I've wrestled with this in the past. A trial cut to the heart of what I believed, and I was left floundering. What was God really like? Did He love me or was it a Sunday school fairytale? It was as if I had to grit my teeth and hold on with all my might because it would have been so easy to give up. Looking back, I know that my determination didn't keep my faith. God was preserving me the whole time and part of that preservation was directing me back to His Word for the answers to my questions.
But today I find myself in a similar struggle again. I am trying to make sense of issues of justice, and I feel the tension as I try to reconcile what I see with who God is. But for His grace, it would easy to take the path of least resistance and modify God and His Word to ease my discomfort. But I come back to John 6. Jesus just finished saying some very hard things to his disciples. Many of them walked away because they could not bear it. And then Peter responds:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
This is where I find myself because again there is nowhere else I can go. I can research to my heart's content. But as potentially helpful as blogs, articles, books, and commentaries may be, those words are not ultimate and infallible. There is only one place I can go to make sense of God, man, and sin. There is only one place where I will find hope that one day all will be made right. I must return to the Word of God.
So even as I grapple with this issue, I'm encouraged. I believe God is still guarding my faith far better than I can guard it myself. He does not lie. His Word is true, and it is tough enough to stand up to the closest scrutiny.