When God Is At Your Right Hand
Some years ago, I had someone ask me if I thought their family was cursed. They related to me a litany of horrible things that had happened to family members over the course of the previous year. It was one awful thing after another.
My instinct was to tell them, "It sure seems like it." There was no good explanation for why so many bad things had come their way. But I sure understood their need to find a reason for them--to discover some kind of meaning in their suffering. I simply told them that sometimes things happened--it didn't have to do with a curse.
I remember reading something about this in Philip Yancey's great book entitled "Where is God When It Hurts?" Yancey addressed the way that so many of us seek answers from the Scripture to help us understand why we are suffering, but we don't always get the answers we're looking for.
Yancey wrote, "The Bible consistently changes the questions we bring to the problem of pain. It rarely, or ambiguously, answers the backward-looking question "Why?" Instead, it raises the forward-looking question, "To what end?"
In my devotions today I read from Psalm 109:30-31, which states, "With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord, in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them."
In ancient Hebrew law courts, the accuser would stand at the right hand of the accused in order to prosecute the case against them. The Psalmist turns this image around, placing God in the right hand role, ready to defend the one who is needy, not to accuse them.
If that person who asked me about whether their family was cursed were standing in front of me today, I think I would have a better answer than the one I gave them then. I would still tell them that sometimes things just happen, and that I don't believe for a minute that God causes all things. I do believe, however, that God is present in the midst of all things.
Which means God suffers with us, mourns and laments with us. God is not far away from us when we are going through suffering. Instead, like Psalm 130 indicates, he is standing at our right hand, defending us against whatever evil might be working to bring us down. And this enables us to actively and boldly seek to discover what we might gain from the experience.
May you feel the loving, protective presence of God with you today and ever day. May you know that even when bad things are happening, that God is with you, defending you and never letting you fall. May you come to know the kind of hope that comes from trusting your future to a God who is continually establishing a hopeful future.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.