Q: Tell me: Why we should pray? The time for God to help my daughter would have been before the car ran over and killed her. I prayed every day for 27 years for my children’s safety. — Glynn, from Australia
A: Glynn, I am very sorry to hear of the tragic, painful loss of your precious daughter. As a father myself, I can only begin to imagine the grief you must be experiencing. It is natural to wonder, after praying daily for her safety, why God didn’t protect her in this case. Indeed, it can raise the question, why pray at all?
Certainly, I don’t need to remind you that we live in a world where tragedy happens every day. Murder, rape, mass shootings, kidnappings, torture, abuse of all kinds, natural and human disasters are so common that we hardly notice the reports.
Of the more than 7.6 billion people in the world, some 795 million people will go to bed hungry tonight. Every year, more than 3 million children under the age of 5 die because they lack proper nutrition.
It is estimated that 1 million people each year die from suicide — representing one death every 40 seconds. Predictions are that by 2020, that rate will increase to one suicide death every 20 seconds.
“Where is God in all of this?” we cry out. “Why doesn’t He do something?” “Why all of this pain and suffering?” “Why is God silent?”
While there are no short and easy answers to these heart-wrenching questions, it is helpful to remember that Christ Himself expressed this same anguish on the cross when, with parched lips and broken heart He cited words from Psalms 22:1: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
This Messianic Psalm continues with words describing Christ’s suffering:
“Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent” (Psalms 1:1-2, NKJV).
See Him there on the cross, naked, bruised, and bleeding. Forsaken by everyone, even, it seemed, by His Father in heaven. And yet, He hung there by faith. Faith that although He could not see, feel, or hear Him, God the Father still cared for Him and that the plan of salvation would be accomplished. Jesus prayed to the Father still, even though all seemed dark and defeated. He clung to Him by faith, and His faith was rewarded.
In that beautiful book on the life of Christ, “The Desire of Ages,” we read:
“Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpetlike tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, ‘It is finished.’ ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.’ A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Saviour shone with a glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast, and died.
“Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor” (p. 756).
Right now, we live in the war zone of a fierce battle known as the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Satan, like a roaring lion, is out to devour everyone he can (see 1 Peter 5:8), and then blame God for all of the calamities that befall us.
While, at the moment, we don’t know the specific answers to the gut-wrenching “Why?” questions, we do know that “in those dreadful hours” we, too, can rely upon the evidences that God has shown to us in the past of His love and care. We can become acquainted with the character of our Heavenly Father, and come to understand “His justice, His mercy, and His great love.” And by faith, we can rest in Him, knowing that one day, He will make all things right, and will restore what the enemy has snatched away.
For we know that this same Jesus, who died on the cross for us, will one day soon come to take us home. “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Amen.