If there is one thing that unites humanity, it is the problem of suffering and evil. Every person will suffer, face death, and see others do the same. Riches, title, race, gender, place of birth, etc does not change the fact that, while the forms and extent may be radically different, every human will face suffering and evil.
In light of this fact, God has one of the most incredible promises, “He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Psalm 23 has been a comfort to Christians through the ages, and in it we see the same promise made. While the psalmist reflects on how God leads him to times of beauty and peace, he doesn’t become angry with God that the valley of the shadow of death comes. Instead he finds comfort that God is with him during that inevitable time.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
This is the comfort of the Christian. Not that we will escape trouble, but that in the trials we will face, we have a companion who is a comforter, protector, and savior. While there may be a number of unknowable reasons for our trials, through Christ we have strength in our trouble like no one else can.
This reality is pictured in the Lord of the Rings through Galadriel’s gift to Frodo. In the movies, the Elf Queen states, “I give you the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” Some jokingly wonder why the eagles aren’t summoned in the Lord of the Rings to fly the hobbits to Mount Doom and avoid the dangers that await on the journey. However, instead of an escape from the the trouble ahead, Frodo is given help for the trouble that will come.
As the story progresses, it becomes the light by which he can see the path ahead, a light so radiant that evil retreats from it, and the light which enables his friend Sam to rescue him from the giant spider Shelob.
As we are willing to look up to God and open our hands to His gifts instead of only seeing our troubles and clenching our hands in anger and frustration, we find one of the most incredible ways to face the trials that will come. There is nothing better than having God as your shepherd.
For my friends who can’t believe that God could be present during senseless evil. I understand. I’ve been there too. Please take the time to read the two short stories at this link.