‘Why Don’t You Do Something?’

Trusting God in the dark:

There are some truths that people – certainly Christians at least – can always bank on. Here is one of them: It is a very good thing indeed that I am not God – or that you are not God. We too often tend to think that we are wiser than God, smarter than God, more loving than God, more faithful than God, more caring than God, more just than God, and so on. A pack of lies – all of them.

And when we are going through tough times, these lies can especially seem appealing. We argue with God and tell him he must do something. ‘Hurry it up God – can’t you see how much I am suffering?’ We want instant relief from our suffering, and we question God when it is not immediately forthcoming.

We all have problems and hardships, and as I often say, some people are suffering much more than I am. Others might be suffering less. But various things can add up and take their toll. I have been through a rough few years. It still seems like a long, hard journey.

On top of all of this, I have never been able to sleep well. It takes me hours to fall asleep, and I often will wake up plenty of times throughout the night. So I of course plead with God: ‘Lord, why can’t you do something about this? Why do I have to keep going through all this? Fix it – now!’ I have been praying that way for decades.

And people like Joni Eareckson Tada would have prayed for many decades for healing, and to be freed from her wheelchair. But so far that is not what God has done for her. Like Job of old, she would have asked kazillions of questions, including the simple plaintive plea: ‘Why, Lord?’

This is where faith and trust come in of course. As has been said, never doubt in the dark what God has said in the light. We must keep believing and trusting, even when it seems like there is no reason to – even when it might seem like God has abandoned us, or he does not really exist.

Now, as sometimes happens, I will write a new piece based on things I saw on the social media or elsewhere. Let me mention two items I came across today which has led to this piece. The first is a meme with a quote from comedian and atheist Ricky Gervais: “What can be more arrogant than believing that the same God who didn’t stop the Holocaust will help you pass your driving test?”

While this topic is far too big to address here, I have sought to do so elsewhere. See for example the 125 articles in my theodicy section which deal with issues of pain and suffering in relation to God: https://billmuehlenberg.com/category/apologetics/theodicy/

But just a few very quick thoughts in reply. The Holocaust of course came to an end in May 1945. It certainly lasted far too long, and it was evil Nazis who were the direct cause of this evil. Thankfully, Allied troops liberated those camps; that is one way that God can act in the world.

And then we have incredible testimonies of believers who went through this hell yet lived to tell about it. Think of what Corrie ten Boon had to endure under the Nazis, and yet consider how God used her to minister to millions of people. It might not have been the way I would have done things, but… And that leads to the second item I saw today online. It said this:

I would have pulled Joseph out. Out of that pit. Out of that prison. Out of that pain. And I would have cheated nations out of the one God would use to deliver them from famine.


I would have pulled David out. Out of Saul’s spear-throwing presence. Out of the caves he hid away in. Out of the pain of rejection. And I would have cheated Israel out of a God-hearted king.


I would have pulled Esther out. Out of being snatched from her only family. Out of being placed in a position she never asked for. Out of the path of a vicious, power-hungry foe. And I would have cheated a people out of the woman God would use to save their very lives.


And I would have pulled Jesus off. Off of the cross. Off of the road that led to suffering and pain. Off of the path that would mean nakedness and beatings, nails and thorns. And I would have cheated the entire world out of a Savior. Out of salvation. Out of an eternity filled with no more suffering and no more pain.


And oh friend. I want to pull you out. I want to change your path. I want to stop your pain. But right now I know I would be wrong. I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good. Because God knows. He knows the good this pain will produce. He knows the beauty this hardship will grow. He’s watching over you and keeping you even in the midst of this. And He’s promising you that you can trust Him. Even when it all feels like more than you can bear.


So instead of trying to pull you out, I’m lifting you up. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I’m asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I’m asking Him how I can best love you and be a help to you. And I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.

It seems to have been written by Kimberly Henderson of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I am not sure if I have ever heard of her before, or the ministry. But what she writes here is so true and so important. You and I would have done things much differently in these and other situations. But it would have been much to our own detriment.

God knows what he is doing, even when we do not see any rhyme or reason in it. He is not surprised by what we are now going through. Nor is he aloof from it. He is the Suffering Servant. And he is working out his good purposes for us, even when so often we cannot see any good in our situation – nor any hope for a way out.

In sum, let me use a personal note to tie some of this together. For what it is worth, I now and then will do a jigsaw puzzle. Hey, I can’t read and write all the time! So a few days ago I got a 1500-piece puzzle for $3 at an op shop. I did around 500 pieces on day 1, another 500 on day 2, and last night I finished it. Unfortunately, 3 pieces were missing (which can happen when you buy a second hand puzzle).

As with so many things, it led me to consider a sermon topic. We are missing some of the pieces of the divine puzzle, and we do not know everything that God is doing with us and with this world. Some things just do not seem right. But we must trust God for the things we cannot see and do not understand. He does know what is best.

And as always, this quote from Spurgeon is so fitting here: “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart. When you are so weak that you cannot do much more than cry, you coin diamonds with both your eyes. The sweetest prayers God ever hears are the groans and sighs of those who have no hope in anything but his love.”

Sadly however, while I have shared that quote so often, and think about it repeatedly, I still question God. I still doubt. I still complain. I still get upset. I still shake my fist at God. All I can do is repeat the prayer of the man whose son was healed by Jesus: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

 [1418 words]

8 Replies to “‘Why Don’t You Do Something?’”

  1. Oh my Bill! I’d cut the shaking your fist at God gig quick smart! One angry wack with a stick by Moses lost him his ticket into the Promised Land. The story being “written for our admonition”. I can’t help but think that you would enjoy the thrice weekly fellowship of the Canberra Declaration zoom meetings Sun, Mon Wed 8 pm.

  2. As I’ve said before “atheists don’t believe in nothing. As they think they know better than God, they are worshipping themselves, their ‘ego'”.
    If as Christians we “think we know better than God in these situations”, does it not make us “practical atheists”? (attribution to Craig Groeschel)

  3. God Love you Bill.

    Your words and common sense have helped sustain me all these years.

    Kindest regards,

    Daniel O’Meara

  4. I’m not a fan of vicitimolgy

    So I was not expecting much here but I’m glad I kept reading

    This is one of your best, I will use this one Easter

    Thank you, sleep well tonight friend

  5. Well, there were certainly moments when my late husband was dying of metastasised cancer that I asked myself why this was happening to us and why didn’t God intervene to reprieve him from that particular form of passage into the next world. As I believe I’ve said before, I sought comfort in Catholic prayer traditions, reading scripture and the work of Catholic theologians on illness, death, loss and grieving. Yes, it tested my faith and yes, at times, I wondered if we could endure this process. But now, I think as painful as it was, it taught both of us important things about the importance of faith even in the midst of adversity, acceptance of what must be and the knowledge that after the worst has happened, our Lord and Saviour is there to provide comfort and healing. And although I’ve said it before, prayer is especially useful in this context. It is a primary channel of communication with our Lord and it certainly deepened my faith. Bill, perhaps a look at prayer might be useful in a future column if you haven’t covered the subject already?

  6. Bill, thank you for all your posts. They have helped me quite a bit over the past years. And, by the way, essential oils have enabled me to sleep through the night.

  7. Thanks Bill, I cannot help notice that you have trouble sleeping and I do too sometimes, especially after a stressful day that gets our adrenaline running like some of the commenters you get. I for one cannot drink coffee, tea or chocolate near bedtime or I will be awake for hours through the night unless I’ve had a few really physical days. Also, I cannot sleep if I haven’t had enough fibrous food during the day to cause a bowel motion – sorry about the details but it is as if my body needs to get rid of toxins left over from digesting food and needs to get rid of them before I will fall asleep. In other words, what we eat has a lot to do with how well we sleep and most people don’t eat enough fibrous based plant foods like cabbage, carrots, apples, pineapple, whole grains and nuts etc that cause proper bowel motions. I heard a nutritionist say we should eat at least 30 different types of plant based foods a week. If I cannot sleep during the night I get up and eat or drink something as food causes sleepiness like a siesta and also it causes a bowel motion. Everybody is different so just have to try things.

  8. Thank you for a wonderful reminder of how “big” and how great our LORD Jesus and our G-d is.
    Thank you for posting exactly where most of the Body is. May the LORD strengthen us, remembering how weak our flesh is, and that we do “believe, help our unbelief”!

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