Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Three Questions

I am at my desk at the Hospital sipping some hot “Tim Horton’s” coffee and reflecting on what had just happened today. I can't help but type my thoughts down. It’s been few hours since one of the patients had died on the operating table and I was called to provide grief and pastoral ministry to the daughter who had just heard the devastating news.

“I wish I could have spent more time with her,” “I was praying all night and all morning for her healing,” “I told her everything is going to be okay, but I wish I knew that I wasn’t going to see her again,” “What am I going to do without my mom?” “How can I live life without her?” were some of the things she said as she cried uncontrollably.

I was at a loss for words. My mind was racing and thinking through what to say and what not to say. I was feeling desperate to break the silence from my end. Seconds turned into minutes and minutes into hours as I sat there listening to her memories of her mom and her feelings about her sudden loss. Instead of giving answers to her tough questions, which I had none anyway, I validated her feelings of shock and sadness.

In my training as a spiritual care provider I have been taught to expect the three heart wrenching questions from patients and their family members- “Why me?” “Where is God?” and “What am I going to do now?”

In the hospital where people constantly deal with anxiety, suffering, pain and loss, these questions are inevitable. But, are these questions only heard within the walls of a hospital? If we expect to hear a different set of questions outside the hospital, you and I are in for a big surprise.

Be it in a hospital, a school campus, a college party, a family gathering, among friends, in a worship service, in a business meeting or lying alone on your bed these three questions are repeated in different shapes and forms during times of tragedy, loss and despair.

These questions are not new to me. In fact, I sometimes catch myself asking one of them when my mind gets clouded with grief. For some reason, every time I reflect on these questions or hear someone ask them, it reminds me of the immensity of these questions in regards to human life.

Today, people have a tendency to discourage others from asking questions. The Bible is full of men and women who had questions that they raised to God. Asking these questions is not wrong in itself. It only exposes and affirms our humanness. But, in asking are we willing to be open for a response? The Psalmist says, “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted” (Psalm 77:1-2). We, like the psalmist, direct our questions to God. But, because of how our human relations have failed us in the past, we question God’s presence and faithfulness and refuse to be comforted.

I am sure all of us are aware by now that, human responses are limited. They disappoint us. Promises are broken and love is made conditional. The instability we have experienced from people around us have somehow shaped us into “comfort” haters. We like throwing questions at God as we face frustration after frustration, but refuse any responses from Him.

On the contrary, our God’s response is a comforting presence. In the midst of all the chaos and the feelings of loneliness, His response, unlike any human responses has been tested and proven by time. His response never changes. It is not conditional. It does not hurt. It does not disappoint. His presence is a staying presence. It never leaves nor forsakes. He weeps when we weep. He comforts even when we refuse to be comforted. He listens to our cries. He hears our pain. He knows our anxiety. He pays attention to our life. Our God, the God of the Bible, embraces us tightly in our pain and says, “I will never let you go and we are going to make it through together.” He is a God who affirms. He is a God who stays faithful to His promises.

It is interesting to see the different contexts in which people ask the three questions. Within experiences of broken relationships and loss of a loved one to failures and loneliness, questions arise. Some ask more and some ask less. I have asked many questions to God. Each difficult situation is unique and forces me to talk to Him regarding my questions, concerns and confusions. To this day, I continue to ask questions. God always gives me one response when I seek an answer. This is a response I am able to acknowledge and receive gratefully in certain occasions, but a response that I refuse to pay attention to at other times.

He speaks loudly and clearly through the Bible and says, “Trust me Sam, I am different than the others you know.” He says in His ever tender comforting voice, “O Sam, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Sam, Why would you ever complain that God has lost track of you? Why would you say He doesn't care what happens to you? Don't you know? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind” (Isaiah 40:27-31)

Friends, it is true when trouble, distress and loss chokes us and clouds our mind, it is not always easy to remember the encouraging words of our God and acknowledge His comforting presence in our life.

My prayer is that as Jesus said, “My sheep will hear my voice,” we’d hear His comforting voice as we walk through the dark valleys in life. May we always remember that there is no one like our God. May we know that He never abandons His children. May we believe from the core of our being that He stays with us and walks with us through all that life throws at us.

Almost everyday I hear from others or ask myself one of the three questions: “Why me?” “Where is God?” and “What am I going to do now?”

After the noise of all the questions settle down and I listen closely, I hear one response.

"You are not alone. I am always with you."

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Sam, beautiful article and it is very realistic!!! keep up the good work...