Like A Fishhook
I pulled a book out of my library last week by one of a handful of authors I return to, Philip Yancey. Where Is God When It Hurts still is a powerful treatment of the painful subject of human suffering. I went back through it, this time taking notes, given the front and center place the pandemic has bestowed suffering.
Yancey quotes the novelist Peter De Vries, who “called the problem of pain ‘the question mark turned like a fishhook in the human heart’” (20). The snagging fishhook of Why?
In response to suffering, Christ Himself side-stepped that question mark. He did with Job. Did it with the disciples. Did it with the reporters regarding the bloody massacre by Pilate. Did it with the two heart-broken sisters of Lazarus. Why? Because there is no quick-fix quip to Why?
Because C. S. Lewis may be right: “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (The Problem of Pain in Yancey).
Besides, could it be the How? is more critical than the Why?
Last Sabbath afternoon many celebrated with Lowell Hamel and his family over his brush with Covid-19 death (see www.facebook.com/lakeunionherald/videos/242742926827740/). Had the interview ended with the Doxology, we would all have stood in gratitude to God. But later that very night another member of our Congregation was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening complications. His text three days later simply testified, “I’m ready either way, now or later.”
Neither the now healed doctor nor the still suffering member can answer the Why? But both may testify to the How? of suffering—how, no matter what the outcome may turn out to be, we can know One who suffers beside us. Because “love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4). And “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This means no matter how long we suffer through this pandemic, there is One who is pinned to our sides in our suffering. “Like a fishhook.” And He shall yet have the last word—which will not end with a question mark. Ever again.