If God is all love, and all-knowing, then why is life so hard?
Why is life so:
- filled with grief?
- exhausting and crushing?
This morning’s prayer group saw one man’s life through this lens in Psalm 38. What I discovered this morning gave me great hope and consolation, because it’s the same story for all of us.
David’s Hard Life
I love David’s honesty in the Psalms: he tells it just like it is. In Psalm 38:1-8 he describes what he’s going through. His health is broken, he carries a crushing burden, his life is filled with grief, he’s exhausted… and the list goes on.
The list sounds remarkably like what I hear from people today. We are exhausted, grief-filled, and carry heavy burdens. Seems like not much has changed in the last few thousand years.
Shouldn’t a loving God be doing something about all this?
The Cause of David’s Hard Life
Now, before we get too far into God-bashing, take a look at what David says is causing his woes:
“…my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins.” (Psa 38:3b–5 NLT)
Once again, David tells it like it is… David’s sins are killing him.
I can already see the pushback: “Are you telling me that every bit of suffering is due to our sins? What about that young mother who was killed by a drunk driver… what sin did she commit?”
The answer? She didn’t sin and cause her suffering and death. But someone else did.
And that’s the hardest part perhaps… to recognize that our sins are never just our sins. They impact other people, sometimes in obvious ways, but frequently in ways we don’t even notice. And before long, we have a world of people who are weighed down… filled with grief… exhausted.
Now, if you’ve actually read the Psalm, you’ll notice I didn’t start with verse 3a (the first half of v3). Here’s how that verse starts:
“Because of your anger, my whole body is sick;” (Psa 38:3a NLT)
I didn’t start there on purpose because it’s important to note that David is not blaming God’s anger for his various problems, David identifies the cause as his sins. What’s happening here is that David’s whole body is sick because of God’s anger.
But God’s anger is out of love. God doesn’t want that life for David either. If David had listened and followed God’s guidance he would be whole. (Ask any parent of a disobedient child how anger and love can go together!)
And now David’s spirit is also weighed down… he knows he has disappointed the God who protected and loved him. David’s whole body… heart, mind, and soul are sick because he hasn’t been feeding them what would make him well:
““Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today” (Deut 6:4–6 NLT)
The Cure for the Hard Life
Listen, volumes have been written about the power of sin and how to break free from its grasp. I won’t attempt to recount it all right here. But I will do two things: I’ll give you a first step, and I’ll give you a follow-up plan.
Step 1: Confess
Notice what David does when he has reached the end of his rope:
“I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain. But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.” (Psa 38:17–18 NLT)
Quick question: If God is all-knowing, then why do I have to confess my sins? Doesn’t God already know?
Quick answer: God already knows. We don’t confess so that God will know our sin… we confess so that WE will know our sin.
We see this all the time in 12 step programs: the addict can’t get better until they admit there’s a problem. That’s why A.A. members introduce themselves by saying, “Hello, my name is Bill, and I’m an alcoholic.” In essence, their introduction is their confession, and their confession is the first step towards healing.
So we confess… we admit we’re not perfect and own that what we’re doing that is causing grief and heaviness in this world.
Step 2: Surround Yourself with a Loving Christian Community
Sin is ninja-sneaky. It’s so subtle we don’t even know we’re under attack until it’s too late. Having a good Christian community around you can not only give you a heads up when it’s coming, they can also give you a hand up when you’ve fallen. And you can return the favor.
Find a place that is anchored in Christ’s grace and God’s Truth. Find a place where you can love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
The Good Life
Will this make all our problems go away? Sadly, no… because there are others out there who are hell-bent on contributing to the world’s heaviness and grief. “My” sin is never just my sin. We live in a fallen world.
But God is faithful. And God is all knowing and all loving. He comes to us in our confession, but he also has commanded us to take this same peace to the world in the form of the Great Commission so that we all might know a life without heaviness and burdens, made possible because of his grace!
Let it begin with me… and let it end on that day when:
“…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10–11 NLT)