In our discussion yesterday about having a clear sense of God in the inevitable moments of profound anguish, I mentioned a comment from Tim Keller in his book, The Reason for God. It dealt with how we negotiate our trust in the sovereign will of God (which, as we heard from the Confession, is in accordance “with His own counsel” (Ch II, Sec. 1) and operates “according to His good pleasure” (sec. 2)). Negotiate in the sense of remaining confident in His sovereign will when it feels an awful lot like there’s no rhyme or reason for the suffering. Here’s the quote:
If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because He hasn’t stopped evil and suffering in the world, then you have (at the same moment) a God great and
transcendent enough to have good reasons for allowing it to continue that you can’t know. Indeed, you can’t have it both ways.
Is it a consolation to know that there may be reasons for your ordeal that you can’t know? Perhaps in the sense that you don’t have to conclude that your faith in His goodness was misplaced, or that this entire experience has no redemptive value–whether present or future. It doesn’t remove the pain but it does allow you to face it differently, knowing that the God who is the “foundation of all being” (Sec. 2) has not been aloof or careless, but rather at work in ways beyond your comprehension.
“Behind a frowning providence hides a smiling face,” the hymn sings. It is an act of faith to trust in that all-encompassing purpose and plan of God when the world seems to be spinning out of control, but it is an act significantly enabled by the Spirit of God. That is why we cry to Him when the pain becomes unmanageable. We were not meant to bear these burdens without Him.