Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Why Bad Things Happen

            Have you ever noticed that whenever you are talking about your faith to a non-believer; inevitably you will hear the statement along the lines of; “If God is so powerful and so loving, why does he allow all these bad things to happen?” I have also noticed that when I am a bystander to these conversations, most Christians don’t have an answer to the question. Or if they do, it is such a weak uncertain response that they are better off saying nothing. Answers such as; “You just have to trust that God is in control.” Or, “You just have to have faith.” Even as a person with a strong relationship with my Heavenly Father, those responses make me go…“WHAT?!” So what I would like to do is take you to the word so that you have an answer to these questions; not only for others, but for yourself.
            So let’s get to the question. Why does such a loving God allow all these “bad” things to happen? The first thing you need to do is get yourself out of the way of His thinking. What I am trying to say is; it’s not all about you. (pause for effect…) Second, you need to understand that there are many things that bring about perceived “bad” events. I am going to focus on some of the things that contribute to the “bad” things that happen.
            Let me start by planting a phrase in your head that I will explain at the end; God did not plan sin, but he has a plan for it. (Let that sink in.)

So…perceived “bad” events can be brought about by and for many different reasons. Some of these reasons include; perception, discipline, consequence and position. Stay with me while I spend some time explaining these concepts. I am sure there are some great theologians out there that have a more extensive list, but these are the ones that cover most of the circumstances in our lives.

            Sometimes an event that we perceive as a “bad” event is just a problem of distorted perception. There are countless testimonies of people who have avoided tragic events through the intervention of God bringing on “bad” events in their lives. Stories of being stuck in traffic, that causes you to miss a flight, that crashes. Stories of lost keys that cause you to be late for work while also missing a huge accident that you could have been involved in, had you been on time. Stories of not getting the mate that you so desperately wanted God to put you with, only for God to bring you someone better. Garth Brooks sang a song with the line; “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” So some of our “bad” things; come from God intervening in our lives and we just having a wrong perception.
            We also have to remember that Jesus set the example as he referred to God as Father and instructed us in how to pray…to our Father. As our Father, a father who truly loves us and wants to see us grow and mature, God is not afraid to discipline his children. Discipline not as an owner beats a dog; but discipline as a loving Father who corrects his children so that they may grow. In the ESV translation, the word “discipline” appears 42 times all in reference to God correcting our actions or behaviors.
            My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline
                        or be weary of his reproof,
            for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
                        as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV)
            Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
                        but he who hates reproof is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1 ESV)
            Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
                        but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24 ESV)
            Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19 ESV)
            It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11 ESV)
So understand that even though we may not be happy with our circumstances, we must know that God may be disciplining us to grow us, to shape us, to mature us and to refine us…all because he loves us.

            This is the one that gets everyone a little upset. But let me see if I can give you a little milk to help rinse this down. For starters you have to understand that the greatest gift God gave to all of us is the gift of free will. God does not make us do anything, we have a choice. Now along with that gift come’s some strings. We need to understand that choice comes hand in hand with the concept of consequence. Every choice yields a consequence; good choices yield good consequences, bad choices yield bad consequences. If you have sex outside of marriage and end up with a child you didn’t want or plan for, you cannot blame God. If you kill someone while driving drunk, you cannot blame God for being in jail. If you are in financial shambles because you cannot manage your money, you cannot blame God.
            Now the second part of this consequence concept is the understanding that we also sometimes suffer the consequences of others. If your boss cannot manage his money, he may have to close his business and lay you off; you have unfortunately suffered the consequences of a poor boss. God will not take away the free will of your boss just to protect your job. But He will find you another one.
If you are raised in foster care because your parents didn’t want you; you have suffered the consequences of your parent’s poor judgment. God will not take away your parents free will just to keep you from being born into a difficult circumstance; but He will help you through it and if you let Him, use your circumstances to bless you and bless others.
If a drunk driver kills a family member of yours. God will not take away the free will of the drunk driver to protect your family; but if you let Him, He can and will bring you through it, He will bless you and use you to bless others through the trials that we endure.
            God gave us free will. With free will comes sin. When we sin, we not only hurt God, we not only hurt ourselves, but we affect those around us. Why does God allow this to happen? The only way to stop it is to remove free will and God loves us all too much to do that.

            If you had a hard time taking in the consequence concept; this one will also take you to task. One of the things that we can easily forget, especially when we are in times of trials or hurts, is our position. God created the universe. Nothing exists that was not created by God; everything that exists only exists because God made it so. We exist only because God says so. Bill Cosby made the comment referring to his kids; “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” It’s a funny statement, but when referring to God it is eternally true.
            The story of Job is complicated for many. But what you need to understand is that Job did not “deserve” anything that happened to him. God counted him as righteous. God allowed the devil to put Job through trials for the sole reason of bringing God glory through Job’s faithfulness. The story finishes with Job being rewarded with ten times of what the devil took away from him. Now it is easy to sit back and say that God is unreasonable, selfish, mean spirited and self-serving. But let me let God answer that with the same way he answered Job when he asked God the same question (please read carefully):
            Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
                “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
                Dress for action like a man;
                                I will question you, and you make it known to me.
                “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
                                Tell me, if you have understanding.
                Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
                                Or who stretched the line upon it?
                On what were its bases sunk,
                                or who laid its cornerstone,
                when the morning stars sang together
                                and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
                “Or who shut in the sea with doors
                                when it burst out from the womb,
                when I made clouds its garment
                                and thick darkness its swaddling band,
                and prescribed limits for it
                                and set bars and doors,
                and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
                                and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
                “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
                                and caused the dawn to know its place,
                that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
                                and the wicked be shaken out of it?
                It is changed like clay under the seal,
                                and its features stand out like a garment.
                From the wicked their light is withheld,
                                and their uplifted arm is broken.
                “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
                                or walked in the recesses of the deep?
                Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
                                or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
                Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
                                Declare, if you know all this.
                “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
                                and where is the place of darkness,
                that you may take it to its territory
                                and that you may discern the paths to its home?
                You know, for you were born then,
                                and the number of your days is great!
                “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
                                or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
                which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
                                for the day of battle and war?
                What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
                                or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
                “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
                                and a way for the thunderbolt,
                to bring rain on a land where no man is,
                                on the desert in which there is no man,
                to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
                                and to make the ground sprout with grass?
                “Has the rain a father,
                                or who has begotten the drops of dew?
                From whose womb did the ice come forth,
                                and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
                The waters become hard like stone,
                                and the face of the deep is frozen.
                “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
                                or loose the cords of Orion?
                Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
                                or can you guide the Bear with its children?
                Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
                                Can you establish their rule on the earth?
                “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
                                that a flood of waters may cover you?
                Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
                                and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
                Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
                                or given understanding to the mind?
                Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
                                Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
                when the dust runs into a mass
                                and the clods stick fast together?
                “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
                                or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
                when they crouch in their dens
                                or lie in wait in their thicket?
                Who provides for the raven its prey,
                                when its young ones cry to God for help,
                                and wander about for lack of food?
                “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
                                Do you observe the calving of the does?
+              Can you number the months that they fulfill,
                                and do you know the time when they give birth,
                when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,
                                and are delivered of their young?
                Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;
                                they go out and do not return to them.
                “Who has let the wild donkey go free?
                                Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
                to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
                                and the salt land for his dwelling place?
                He scorns the tumult of the city;
                                he hears not the shouts of the driver.
                He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
                                and he searches after every green thing.
                “Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
                                Will he spend the night at your manger?
                Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes,
                                or will he harrow the valleys after you?
                Will you depend on him because his strength is great,
                                and will you leave to him your labor?
                Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
                                and gather it to your threshing floor?
                “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
                                but are they the pinions and plumage of love?
                For she leaves her eggs to the earth
                                and lets them be warmed on the ground,
                forgetting that a foot may crush them
                                and that the wild beast may trample them.
                She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers;
                                though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear,
                because God has made her forget wisdom
                                and given her no share in understanding.
                When she rouses herself to flee,
                                she laughs at the horse and his rider.
                “Do you give the horse his might?
                                Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
                Do you make him leap like the locust?
                                His majestic snorting is terrifying.
                He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
                                he goes out to meet the weapons.
                He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
                                he does not turn back from the sword.
                Upon him rattle the quiver,
                                the flashing spear, and the javelin.
                With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
                                he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
                When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
                                He smells the battle from afar,
                                the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
                “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
                                and spreads his wings toward the south?
                Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
                                and makes his nest on high?
                On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
                                on the rocky crag and stronghold.
                From there he spies out the prey;
                                his eyes behold it from far away.
                His young ones suck up blood,
                                and where the slain are, there is he.”
                And the LORD said to Job:
                “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
                                He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
(Job 38:1-40:2 ESV)
Enough said; we need to understand our place. We need to understand that God is the almighty and He will be glorified. I would like to leave one more story to illustrate our place in and under the creation of the great “I AM”:
            As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.(John 9:1-3 ESV)


We have to understand our place that we are all part of God’s creation and that we will not understand all that God does or God allows; but we are all His creation and a part of His creation. Now this brings me back to the statement I made in the beginning. God did not plan sin, but he has a plan for it. In the beginning, God created everything and found it to be good. God’s plan was for perfection and for use to reside in the Garden of Eden with Him for eternity. He did not plan for Adam and Eve to sin against Him, but he had a plan for it; our redemption through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. God does not plan sin, He does not desire for us to hurt and it was not in his plan for evil to have such an influence in this world. But He has a plan for it; if we will place our faith, our trust and our lives in the one true living God through His son Jesus Christ.

I pray that we all come to a place in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, of understanding that our hurts and pains are a result of sin and not a result of God. I pray that we come to know that our Heavenly Father has such a desire to either take the burden of our pains, or use them. All so that He may be glorified. In Him being glorified through us, He promises that our rewards will be great in Heaven.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.(James 1:2-4 ESV)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.(James 1:12 ESV)

May our glorious Father guide you, bless you and keep you!