In 1997 a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. She had two young boys, and she wanted to live. The cancer was already very advanced when it was discovered. The doctors offered very little hope.
I remember taking food to her family, and sitting by her bedside just days before she died. My friend was a Christian. She looked at me. Her eyes locked with mine. I read not only sadness in them but I also saw the questions in her eyes and in her expression. She asked me why God was not saving her from death. My friend cried telling me that her sons needed their mother. She had questions. Prayers had been lifted to God for months. Why was God not healing her? Why was her life not being spared? Why was God silent?
My friend had questions. I felt helpless in the face of her pain and her desire to live so she could be a mother to her sons. What could I say? Could I tell her that death is a wonderful friend when the Bible clearly teaches that death is an enemy — a defeated enemy but one that still operates until the return of The Conqueror (I Cor. 15:22-58). Yes, death’s days are numbered — Christ proved He can resurrect us by His own resurrection! Death is conquered! There is full assurance in Him! There is the coming reality held in promise right now — a promise so sure it can be spoken about as if it were already here.
But my friend believed she would be resurrected one day. She wanted to make sense of today. What could I say to her?
I remember looking into her eyes and saying, “I don’t know all the answers to our whys. I know sin brought all the heartaches and death that we know here…and I know that time and chance happen to all men according to Solomon. I know God loves you,” and brokenly I said, “I don’t know the answer to all your whys.”
I thought she was looking for some deep theological answer to her question and I didn’t feel equipped to provide it. After more tears, hugs and reassurance of my love for her, I left her. I may have failed her. I do not know. All I know is that night I had trouble sleeping. I kept thinking of my own five-year-old son, and my little girl who was just a few months old. I felt guilty. I had no cancer. I was not facing death at the moment — with the prospect of leaving my children. Why her and not me?
It is now 2016 — almost two decades have passed. There have been others that I have prayed for, prayed that their lives would be spared but death claimed. I have a friend in my life right now who trusts God but doesn’t fully understand what appears to be His silence. Some still ask me the “why” question. ” I know God has the power…why doesn’t He?”
My reply today? Even though I might could phrase my answer in more “theological” sounding words than in 1997, my reply is simply: I still know that sin is the reason for all the heartaches, sorrows, and death being in our world — all the bad in this world is here because of sin. I still know that time and chance happen to all of us (Ecc. 9:11). I still know that being a faithful Christian does not mean that we do not face the same problems as the rest of humanity. But it does mean that we never face them alone. Never. Never alone. And today I am even more convinced that all of our whys are silenced by the cross. The cross shouts above all the pain of our world — I love you! The light of the cross shines into our darkest night — I love you! In the cross all of our whys are met in the love of the God Who gave His all. In the cross, we see that God is not silent!
On the cross Christ cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” Here was the One Who had lived a perfect life. Was He truly forsaken by God? I submit that Christ was not forsaken by God the Father. God in the flesh quoted Psalm 22 for the benefit of those who were near the cross, for those who looked upon Him and mocked His holy name — for those who said that God had forsaken Him. Pay close attention to verse 24:
“For he has not been unmoved by the pain of him who is troubled; or kept his face covered from him; but he has given an answer to his cry.” (BBE)
The Father did not turn away from Christ, the Righteous One, but was moved by His pain and answered His cry. Christ quoted Psalm 22 not only as a witness to the fact He was/is the Messiah but also for you and me who might at times wonder if God has forsaken us or is silent in our time of need. The cry from the cross points us to Psalm 22 which is a beautiful reminder that God is not unmoved by our pain, nor has He turned His face away but He gives help when we cry. He is not silent.The help might be the strength to endure our hour. He is not far from us. He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18)
When you think God is silent, look to the cross. The answer to all our whys is the Christ of the cross. He came to reverse the curse. All our enemies are defeated, and He will crush them under His feet at His return. And I am convinced that when we gaze upon the beauty of our LORD, all our whys will vanish in the light of His glorious face. Our eyes will behold the greatest treasure.
Never, never let go of the Christ of the cross. He is the answer.