What follows is a quote from a book I just learned about by Dr. Gay Hubbard, titled More Than an Aspirin: A Christian Perspective on Pain and Suffering. I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Hubbard deliver these words at a Denver Seminary Chapel in 1994 and they continue to touch me deeply and speak profoundly to my soul.
Listen to the entire presentation:
When pain and loss push us up against the limits of our story and we find, like the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, that the human story taken alone makes no sense at all, then we are ready to consider seriously the fact that God has a story too.
Then we can see that we have stood the truth of God’s presence in the universe on its philosophical head. With profound spiritual narcissism we have assumed that the ultimate meaning of our story lies in our presence in it. We have then assumed that God, being great and loving, is responsible to come into our story and make our story a good story in which there is no hard thing that we must endure. If He is a good God, we argue, He will come be in our story and make everything there all right.
It is part of the great good news of our Christian faith that God is passionately interested in making everything all right. But God has a plan for doing that, and that is a part of His story, not just of ours.
God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—decided in the limitless reaches of eternity to make a world. The world they made was beautiful and good. But a great and terrible tragedy occurred. God’s creatures, made in His image, chose to disobey Him, and a terrible chasm was established between God and His own. But God had a plan. God the Son came down to us and was human with us—God’s lost and fallen creatures—and in love He laid down His life for us. When He returned to heaven, He left an empty tomb, the promise of the Spirit, and, through John, a glimpse into the last chapter of God’s story. In that last chapter, the bent and broken things are all made new, and evil is utterly destroyed. At the end in God’s story there is no more pain, no more tears, and no darkness—there is only light—the indescribable undimmed timeless light of God’s presence with us in a world in which the old and terrible things have passed away (Revelation 21:1–5).
God is not unreasonable nor is He uncaring. But He is unwilling to abandon His great story in order to function simply as a divine footnote in our own. Yet, at the same time, God is committed to our story too. When we become willing through relationship with Him to incorporate our story into His, God in turn enters into our story in a new way that empowers us to accept and to transcend the brokenness of ourselves and of our world. Our story takes on both personal meaning and eternal significance when we become part of God’s story too.