“I didn’t give a damn about who God was to you in your happiness. But now that you are suffering, I want to know: Who is your God? Where is he in your suffering?”
These words were spoken by a lesbian woman dying of cancer to Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. Rosaria’s story of God is mind boggling; it is the story of a radical feminist, lesbian professor being touched by the grace of a godly couple, and in turn, being shown the glory of God. It is the story of someone running away from God, who used to scoff at the thought of his existence, entering into his kingdom after being redeemed and restored.
Her story is amazing. Her story has the hand of God impressed upon it everywhere you look. Her story is one of grace, but one that still had major heartache and suffering in the midst.
She had been stabbed in the back and betrayed by a man in her church, a man she had become attached to, a man to whom she was engaged. She had given up everything; she had already accepted a two year leave from her tenured professorship, had promised her house as a rental for two years to some of her graduate students, and had planned to move to Pittsburgh. All this so that her fiance could finish his last two years of seminary, and what was she left with instead?
Brokenness. Singleness. Literally everything gone or uprooted. As she wrote, reminiscing back on moving to another city with her dog Murphy, “This was my conversion in a nutshell: I lost everything but the dog.”
We have all or will all face suffering in life. Your story may currently be in a similar chapter as this one in Rosaria’s life. Maybe that chapter is behind you but you still don’t know what to do with it; maybe that chapter is in your future.
Suffering is inevitable, especially in the life of a follower of Christ.
Yet, those words spoken by Rosaria’s neighbor are such a wakeup call to those of us who find ourselves hurting and asking, “Why God? Why are we facing this? Where is the good in this?” When Rosaria came to Christ, that neighbor wanted nothing to do with the gospel; when Rosaria’s life crumbled around her, her neighbor was intrigued.
Even while we hurt, God is still faithful, and that faithfulness is a lighthouse to a dark world. The grace of God in our lives light may glow faintly when we are standing on the mountain, but it becomes a blazing fire when we are walking in a dark and dangerous valley, when it feels like we are going through Hell itself. Even when there is nothing to be found but God, He is still good, and that can be our battle cry, our firm foundation, our consolation.
If you are suffering, have been suffering, or are bracing yourself for the next round, take heart: You serve a good and faithful God who is a firm foundation when we are walking through the darkest points in our lives. He will never let you go, and you can have joy and sing, “Faithful You are,” even when tears are streaming down your face.
So, if someone asks you, “Who is your God?” in the midst of your heartache and pain, have an answer. Tell them that your God is strong, your God is steadfast; he is faithful, he is good, he is a redeemer, and he loves them so. Our confidence is in his faithfulness, and because of that, the hurt in our lives can become the catalyst to healing in the lives of others.
“Who is your God?” Tell the world. Remind yourself.