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About the Writer:

With grown step-children, college age sons and a self-employed husband, Joanne offers her time to God and to others. Her interest in writing and communications brought her back to college as an adult and through several reinventions of her own business and ministries. With time on her hands, she writes about God and life.



Why Does God Allow Sad Stories?

By Joanne Sampl

Synopsis: Carrying each others burdens to God helps us realize what we have going for us.

A hopeful romantic – that’s how I describe myself. In my imagination, the boy always gets the girl and they ride off together into the sunset. In my imagination, the two marry in the most spectacular ceremony of the century. Soon, they become parents of ideal, healthy children who respect and honor their parents and grow up into courageous astronauts, doctors and noble peace prize winners. In my imagination, there is always a happy ending.

So, why isn’t God a hopeful romantic like me? Why doesn’t He smooth out the rough spots of our lives and create a utopia for us? Why do sweet, dear, wonderful people have to suffer for months and years with circumstances that completely overwhelm them?

I am blessed to have some really good friends who share their hearts and burdens with me. I pray for them faithfully. They each have some circumstance that seems insurmountable. One friend has a serious health issue and has seen doctors and specialists for over twenty years. No one can diagnose her problem, let alone offer some hope or cure. Another friend has a child with health and psychological complications requiring even more attention and energy than she has to give. Another friend is battling the corporate pressure of intensely high expectations and manipulative personal criticisms, but just recently was fired by a plot of corporate sabotage. She debates going back into the harsh work environment, but with no savings and living alone, she has little choice. Another friend is committed to her marriage, although the loneliness and dysfunctions have reeked out any joy and emotional connection for her in the relationship.

These are just a few stories of the women around me that are asking the question, “Why does God allow this in my life?”

There is no easy answer. Each one of these friends is in a battle for her faith and her hope. Each one is on the verge of quitting, of allowing her hopeful romantic story to end bitterly, of allowing a part of herself to die in the process of just surviving instead of conquering. Each one is feeling that God isn’t hearing her prayers let alone answering them. Each one is pouring out everything she has to make it one more week, one more day, and sometimes one more hour.

I ache for each one of them and join them in their burden as much as I can.

There is a part of me that wants to uphold the character of God to them right now. “God isn’t doing this to you,” I told one friend going through a battle with her middle child. She snapped back with “but He is allowing it.” I couldn’t argue with her point. I couldn’t argue with the pain in her voice or the sense of betrayal and frustration she was feeling. She was exhausted. She just needed one hopeful, romantic story book ending for the situation so she could keep going one more week, one more day, one more hour.

None of my spiritual disciplines or “have you tried” list of suggestions would comfort her. All I could ask was how she was doing in her personal bible study. I was pleased with her answer. It was the first bright spot of the conversation. “It’s great!” She shared. “I’m loving it.”

Then, I realized she was reading the only perpetually hopeful, romantic story there is: the Story of God. Overwhelming circumstances are part of this world since the first sin in the Garden of Eden. People of every walk of life on this planet have faced life and death, famine and starvation, disease and perversion of every kind. We are not alone in being overwhelmed by our circumstances.

In fact, in so many ways, our modern conveniences have even reduced the degree of intensity of our circumstances. We have trained doctors and researchers trying to help find cures and treatments for medical conditions that never even had a diagnosis a hundred years ago. We have telephones, computers, e-mail and the internet to share our burdens through, instead of being so isolated and alone without technology that we could literally die with anyone knowing or caring.

My husband and I used to joke about how I would never make it if I lived in another time period or in another culture. Indoor plumbing is an absolute must for me. Microwaves and coffee makers are a close second. Adjustable thermostats with whole house air conditioning and heating are mandatory for me. I could live without my computer or cell phone, but I wouldn’t survive without my minivan to zip over to a friend’s house for tea or a chat.

So, why does God allow circumstances that overwhelm us? Why does He allow sadness, death and devastation to be part of this world? He can move a mountain, change a heart, heal the sick, and raise the dead if He wanted to, right? Why aren’t we protected from the evil one, the perverse sin and the fear of a hopeless future?

“God has not promised to protect us completely from the evil in the world,” Diane Langberg, Ph.D. writes in her book On the Threshold of Hope for survivors of sexual abuse. “What He will do is anything and everything to preserve you in Christ. He will protect the life of God in you. He is your refuge from anything that would take you away from God.”

So, my prayer for you, my dear friends, is that you sense that the hopeful, romantic story is still happening in your lives. God has His arms securely around you, His Spirit is unquestionably in you, and His Light is shining in your eyes. You and Jesus are the hopeful, romantic story of oneness. He’s the boy. You’re the girl. He’s the groom. You’re the bride. The day you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior was the most spectacular ceremony of all time. Your union with Him has created life, and affected all of creation. Your name is written in His book. He wrote love letter after love letter to you in the Scriptures. He’s put you in a time of history that you can connect to more people, be more productive with your time and resources, and really accelerate your opportunities to heal, to grow and to talk about your hopeful romantic story of God with others.

And, because you are in a marriage with Jesus, I hope and pray you feel His tears and His burden for what you are going through. Jesus loves you. He’s groaning with you. He’s sharing your burden. Recently, I heard a pastor describe God’s heart for us when we are going through devastations like Hurricane Katrina. He said it so simply, “An act of God is also the tears of God.”

In your lives, in your situation and in your overwhelming circumstances, God is still writing the most hopeful, romantic, and “happily-ever-after for eternity” story in you. You are not alone. Your Groom is with you. How I pray you let Him comfort you through your bible study, your prayer life and your circumstances.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

Copyright © October 5,,2005 – Joanne Sampl.. All rights reserved.


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