Sin

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why

I’m sure we have all heard the question, or maybe even asked the question: Why do bad things happen to good people?

This is a question that the world wrestles with,  with some even using this reality (that evil exists, and that good people suffer) as a proof that God doesn’t exist…

But what would you say if I told you that in our world, bad things DON’T happen to good people.

Now, some of you might scratch your head at that. “What do you mean? I know good people that have died before their time. I know good people that suffer. I know good people that experience tragedy. I read or see on TV all the time how good Christians are suffering for their faith! Chris, what do you mean that bad things don’t happen to good people.”

Let me just say, yes…when we compare people to people…yes some are good, and some aren’t. Yes, some people are more evil or wicked than others…

But other people aren’t the standard for comparison. God is the standard. When we compare ANYONE to God, they come up short. The Bible almost seems to go out of its way again and again to make sure we know that there are no good people. (Romans 3:10, 3:23 for instance)

Folks, there is only One who is good, and that is God. And I think this ought to put the problem of evil, and this idea of righteous people perishing while the evil prosper in its proper perspective.

In contemplating this question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” R.C. Sproul, Jr. answered it like this: “That’s only happened once, and he volunteered for it.”

He’s talking of course about Jesus. There has only ever been one man, one person, who could truly say that He was good. That was Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God who was God Himself, He took on human flesh, became a man and lived a perfect sinless life even though Scripture says he was tempted in all things as we are. Yet, he did it without sin. This One who was the only truly “good” person who has ever lived went to the cross and suffered and died.

Why did He do it? So that you and I, “bad” sinful people might be forgiven of our sin and saved…saved to live forever with God.

Folks, this is the Gospel. The world asks why bad things happen to good people, but the Gospel says that there was only one time a bad thing happened to a good person, and it happened so that good things can happen to bad people.

We are the bad people, we are sinners. But Jesus took the punishment that we deserved so that we might be saved from our sin and the wrath of God that those sins deserve. God is holy, and because He is, He must punish sin. So Jesus, the perfect, spotless, sinless lamb of God took our punishment for us.

The Gospel is very good news for sinners, and that includes everyone reading this.

So, how does this apply to us, and the reality of suffering. Well, we have to keep it in its proper perspective. Yes, bad things happen in this world, but those bad things happen because of sin. We live in a world in which sin is a reality. We live in a world in which we ourselves are sinners. Since this is true, we can’t ever say, “I don’t deserve this!”

This may sound harsh…but what we deserve is hell. So, if God through Jesus has saved us from hell, friends we have much more, and much better than we deserve.

When tragedy comes, we can’t say, “God how could this happen, why did you do this?” We “deserve” much worse.

Suffering, difficulties, tragedy…these things are never fun. We don’t want to go through them. But I believe there is comfort in the Scriptures as we face these realities. I personally find comfort it in a verse that I quote quite often:  Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

For the child of God, even the “bad stuff” we go through, God is using for our good. I heard a question this week, and it was a question Pastor James Boice asked his congregation as he suffered from stage 4 cancer some years ago. He asked, (I’m going to paraphrase) “If you could take your suffering and disabilities and difficulties away…would you?”

Most of us would probably say, yes. But, James Boice said if we did, or if we could, it wouldn’t be nearly as good for us as what God is doing for us AND in us through them.

This is hard for us to wrap our mind around, but this is the truth and the meaning behind Romans 8:28, this is why we have to trust in God when we don’t understand what is happening. This is why we have to rest in the Gospel and rest in Jesus.

So if you are reading this, this is my plea to you. Trust in God and trust in Jesus your Savior…

Because this God, and this Savior, Jesus Christ…He is our only hope, our only salvation, and our only goodness. Don’t reject Him, and please don’t try to live apart from Him. Receive Him, trust Him, and rest in Him.

 

Let Us Consider: Neglecting to Meet Together

CW2

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

I’m sure these are verses that we all have heard quoted many times, especially by preachers who are trying to guilt us into coming to church. Let me say right now before we go any further, I don’t want to guilt you into going to church. I tell folks all the time, even the folks that I pastor, that it is not my job to beg people to come to church. Sure, I want you to know that I want you there. Yes, I want you to know that the doors are always open. Please, know that everyone is welcome. But, I will never beg you to come to church nor will I make you feel guilty for not being there.

Does this mean that I don’t think church is important? Absolutely not. There are few things in this world and in our Christian lives that are more important than worshiping corporately with fellow believers. In fact, as this passage from Hebrews shows us very clearly, corporate worship is a command from God. We are to “not neglect to meet together…” Why? So that we can stir one another up to good works, and encourage each other.

Likewise, in Ephesians 4 the Apostle Paul gives another powerful illustration of what is accomplished through the local church. Paul says that the saints are equipped…”for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

The picture we have throughout the Bible, ALL of the Bible, is that believers WILL gather with other believers in order to worship God and to be built up in their faith. It is through the ministry of the local church that we learn who God really is. It is through the ministry of the local church that we learn what God has done and is doing through Christ. It is through the local church that believers are built up in their faith, grow in their walk with Christ, and are shaped more into his image. It is through the local church that believers draw close to other believers and build relationships that help them to love God and love others as Christ has called them to love. It is through the local church that believers encourage each other, love each other, and build each other up.

This isn’t just a preacher talking, this is the Word of God talking.

So, no, I don’t want to beg anyone to come to church. But what I do want you to know is that if you aren’t a member of a local church, or if you don’t attend a local church and serve in a local church then your faith WILL suffer. Your Christian life WILL suffer. Your relationship with God WILL suffer. Your knowledge of and affection for the Lord Jesus will not be what it should be. Perhaps most frightening of all…If you are neglecting to meet together with other believers, you are neglecting and disobeying the clear command of the word of God, and this is called sin.

As a pastor, I don’t want to see people coming to church because it strokes my ego, or makes me feel more successful. As a pastor, I want to see people coming to church because I want to see people drawing near to Jesus and growing in their relationship with him.

I was reading this week about the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world, and I was reminded yet again what an amazing privilege we have here in the United States to worship and speak the name of Jesus freely. In other parts of the world there are believers who have to meet in secret, and literally risk their lives to speak, sing, and praise the name of Jesus. Believers in other parts of the world would literally die to do the things that so many of us take for granted, and even neglect.

I said previously that I don’t want to guilt anyone into going to church, and I don’t see it as my job to beg you to do so. Those things may be true, but I do want to leave you with this encouragement: PLEASE, for the sake of your own soul and your relationship with the Lord, find a local church. Attend that local church, join that local church, be faithful and serve that local church. This is the will of God for your life – Scripture commands it, a thriving and vibrant Christian life demands it.

True Repentance

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is one of the most beautiful prayers of repentance in all of the Bible. The heading just above the beginning of the Psalm tells us that it is “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”

David, the greatest king (other than Jesus of course) sinned terribly against the Lord. I’ve written about this event previously, but you can go back and read about it in 2 Samuel 11 if you want to review. David slept with another man’s wife, the wife even of one of his trusted soldiers, Uriah. He made many unsuccessful attempts to cover up his sin, and ultimately ended up having Uriah killed.

2 Samuel 12 then details an encounter between David and the prophet Nathan in which David is confronted with his sin. This is a fascinating event in the life of David, and if you don’t know the story or haven’t read it in some time, I would recommend you go and read it now. For time sake however, I’m not going to go into great detail here today.

What I do want to talk a bit about today though is David’s response to this confrontation with the prophet Nathan, and David’s response when he is confronted with his sin. That is what we have here in Psalm 51.

David’s sin with Bathsheba and his attempts to cover up his sin are tragic. Sin is tragic. The sad fact of the matter is that all sin is tragic, and the consequences and repercussions of sin are often wide reaching and can be felt for years to come. This is certainly the case with David and his sin. The good news though, is that God doesn’t just leave us in our sin. He confronts us with our sin, he convicts us of our sin, and he gives us the opportunity to repent and turn away from our sin. Once this repentance happens, then God will pour out his grace and mercy upon us and forgive us of our sin.

Psalm 51 is the record of David’s repentance. It is a beautiful prayer of repentance and one that I believe we all would be well served as Christians to look to, and even pray for ourselves on a regular basis. In this Psalm David appeals to God’s character – his mercy and steadfast love – and asks God to blot out his sins. He admits he is a sinner and always has been and his sins weigh heavily upon him. David asks God not to cast him away from His presence, he asks to have the joy of his salvation restored to him. He promises God true worship, and that he would tell all people of the merciful ways of God, and that he would live a life of praise.

As we read through this Psalm, we see clearly that David acknowledges his brokenness over his sin – he truly mourns over his sin. This is an important point I don’t want us to miss. Many times we think of repentance as simply being sorry for sin. I think often times we aren’t so much sorry for our sin, but we are really just sorry that there are consequences for our sin. Ironically, we usually aren’t sorry for our sin, until we are caught in our sin. This isn’t true repentance.

True repentance is brokenness over our sin. True repentance is understanding how serious our sin is. Our sin, all of our sin, is a sin against a Holy God. (Verse 4) Sin is no small matter. David understands this and begs God to forgive him for his transgressions. David is truly broken over his sin.

David also doesn’t try to justify himself, make excuses, or try to blame others. What about us? What is our first response when we are confronted with sin? Usually we respond like our first parents, Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, how did they respond when God confronted them with sin? Adam blamed Eve, and even God himself. Eve blamed the snake. No one was willing to fess up and just say, “Yes God, I disobeyed you. Please forgive me.” I wonder how different things would be if they had.

True repentance doesn’t involve us making excuses or trying to justify ourselves. True repentance involves confession. Why make excuses? God knows the truth anyway!

So, Psalm 51 is a beautiful prayer of repentance because it is an honest confession of sin, and a sincere plea for God’s mercy. Our prayers should be no different.

As I read through Psalm 51, I also get a sense of joy. David is a man who knew God very well. He knew God’s character. He knew God was merciful, he knew God was a God of steadfast love. (Verse 1) As David pours out his heart, you get the sense that David knows that he is forgiven. David isn’t going to sit around and dwell on past failures, he is going to take hold of God’s grace, and live his life in response to it.

David says, “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Verse 7)

But David isn’t content just to rest in the fact that he is forgiven. David asks God for a pure heart. He wants a heart that is renewed and on fire for God. David asks God for a “clean heart” and a “right Spirit.” (Verse 10) David then promises to tell other sinners about the mercy of God so that they too may come and experience it themselves, for God will receive all who come to him broken and truly repentant over their sin. (Verse 13-15, 17)

This is good news isn’t it? That all of us have the same access to the God of mercy that David did – the God of mercy that was revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Everyone reading this right now has the opportunity to come to God, confess our sin, receive forgiveness, have our hearts made pure, and joyfully take hold of the salvation God offers us all through Christ.

Once we experience this, the only logical response is praise God, and to go out and tell others about how merciful our God is. Once receiving this glorious salvation all of our prayers ought to be, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”

Can we pray that prayer today? I pray that you can.

The Tragedy of Sin

bathsheba

I’m not sure there is a more tragic portion of Scripture than what we have in 2 Samuel 11. Most of us, even if we don’t spend a lot of time in the Bible know this story. David, one of the most loved and celebrated men in the history of Israel committed one of the most disgusting acts that we can imagine. This act I am referring to is his sin with Bathsheba, and the ensuing murder of her husband to cover up his sin.

The Bible says that, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” This is an important detail that we might be quick to just pass over. As the stage is set for the Bible to relay the story of David and Bathsheba to us, we see that David should have never been in position to commit this sin, he was supposed to be out in battle with his men. David however has grown complacent, and instead is at home while his men go out and fight his battles.

This is an important detail for us, and the point in which I want to make. I’m writing today, not so much to talk about the tragic case of David and his sin, but I want to write about the nature of sin, and the danger of sin. I’m not writing just about David’s sin, but our sin as well.

Sin tends to snowball. One sin leads to another sin. In order to avoid the consequences of one sin we have to commit another sin to cover it up. Our sin ends up not simply impacting us, but the people around us. Very often, it isn’t only ourselves that suffer for sin, but those around us as well.

David’s very first sin in this scenario, is as I said slothfulness. He was supposed to be in battle with his men, yet he stayed behind. The next sin we see David committing is lust. David takes a stroll on his roof and he sees Bathsheba, a beautiful woman bathing. David then sent and inquired about the woman and discovered that she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite. One would think that a righteous man such as David, in whom we’ve seen God work so mightily throughout the Bible up to this point would then back away from the situation. Certainly an upstanding man such as King David wouldn’t pursue this relationship any further.

Sadly, this isn’t the case. David sends for Bathsheba and he commits adultery with her. Sometime later, Bathsheba informs David that she is with child. In order to cover up his sin, David sends for Uriah and makes several attempts to get the husband of Bathsheba to sleep with his wife. Uriah, being more righteous than David refuses to do so. He refuses to eat and drink and lie with his wife while the other soldiers are in battle. When David can think of no other way to cover up his sin, he sends word to put Uriah on the front lines of battle, then for the other men to fall back. To put it plainly, David has Uriah murdered. David then takes Bathsheba as his own wife.

Usually when we talk about the heroes of the Bible, we don’t associate a sequence of events like this with their lives. If we had only studied the life of David up to this point, and knew nothing of this story before now…we would be in utter shock!

But the Bible is very clear about sin, even the sins of those whom God in his providence chose to use in mighty ways. The Bible is very clear about the nature of sin. Sin is dangerous, sin is evil, and even the best of us are not immune to its disastrous effects and consequences. This window into the life of David is a powerful reminder for us all. When we crack the door, even a little bit and let sin into our lives we have no idea how tragic the results can be.

In David’s own life, what started out as sloth and complacence gave way to lust, which gave way to adultery, which gave way to murder. As a result of David’s sin a righteous man died. But not only did David’s sin cost Uriah his life, but several other of David’s men died. We know from further reading in 2 Samuel that the child whom was conceived as a result of David’s sin also died.

Again, David’s sin had tragic consequences that were far reaching. The depths of sin and the consequences of sin were far beyond anything that David could have imagined.

Truthfully though, this isn’t just true of David’s sin, it is also true of our sin. It is very rare that our sin impacts only us. Very often when we allow sin to take root in our lives, the end results are far reaching. As parents our sin affects our children. As husbands our sin affects our wives, and vice versa. The sins of children affect their parents – and we could keep going, but I think we get the idea. Sin is indeed tragic, and left to itself it kills and leaves a path of destruction in its wake.

But God in his grace has given us the remedy for sin. God offers mercy and forgiveness, for even the most tragic cases of sin. What is that remedy you might ask? Repentance. When we come face to face with our sin, when we see it for what it is God calls us to repent – to humble ourselves, admit our sin, and turn away from it and throw ourselves upon the mercy of God. We know that this is what David did. (2 Samuel 12, Psalm 51)

God’s forgiveness ultimately comes through Jesus Christ, the “Son of David” who willingly took upon himself the tragic consequences of our sin so that we wouldn’t have to. This is good news for us all. Again, if David can fall victim to the tragedy of sin, no one is immune. So, no matter where you are today, no matter what you’ve done, you have hope in Christ. Turn to him today and ask him to take your sins away and to pour out his mercy upon you.

The Greatest Gift

greatest gift

Whether we like to admit it or not. We all like gifts. The thing I like about children is that they are way more honest than most adults. Adults talk about the “true meaning” of Christmas and pretend that they don’t get excited about the presents they see wrapped up under the tree with their name on it. But, I have good news for us all, we can stop pretending. It’s okay to get excited about gifts, because God designed us that way. Not only did God design us to like gifts but he gave us the greatest gift of all, His own Son.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” -John 3:16

This verse is by far one of the most familiar verses in all of the Bible. Even people who don’t read their Bibles or don’t know anything about the Bible have heard this verse, and what a beautiful verse it is. I was speaking to a pastor friend of mine recently about this verse, and the gift of Jesus, and he made the point that he thinks sometimes people don’t understand why it is that Jesus is a gift.

To answer this question fully would take way more time than a single blog would allow, but I think the book of Romans helps us to shed some light on the question at hand. Romans 3:23 tells us that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Every person reading these words right now has sinned against God. The Bible time and time again tells us that God is Holy. Since God is Holy, he cannot dwell in the presence of sin. Most of us would like to believe that God could just look past our sins or just “get over it.” But to do that would violate who He was as God. So, if we know and believe that God is indeed Holy, but we are sinful, and that God and sin cannot dwell together, then that creates an obvious problem.

But, here is the amazing thing. Romans 5:6, “…Christ died for the ungodly.” In Romans 5:8 the Apostle Paul said it like this, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I can’t think of a more beautiful picture or a more wonderful thing to celebrate this Christmas than the fact that a Holy God would love sinners so much that He would give his only Son to the world. Many times when we read John 3:16 we think of God “giving” Jesus to the world simply in terms of his birth, or maybe even his life and ministry while on earth. And while the birth of Jesus, His incarnation and everything that flowed from that is an amazing thing, and something we should celebrate…God went even further than that.

Not only did God send His Son Jesus to be born into a world of sin and to live amongst sinners and to teach us about God and do all of the amazing miracles that He did. But God the Father actually sent His Son to earth to die for sinners. Christmas isn’t simply about the cute baby Jesus in a manger, but it is also about a Roman Cross and the death of our Savior for us. It is about Jesus coming to earth to take upon Himself the sins of His people.

God gave His Son to the world so that we might believe in Him and receive eternal life. Is there a greater gift than this?

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You and me, through our sin we earned death. But God has gifted us with His Son Jesus, and in Him Eternal life. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Friend, the greatest gift God could give us is His Son Jesus. My question this Christmas season to you is, have you received this gift? Those of us who have children know, there are few joys greater than giving our children gifts. God feels the same way about his children, and if you are yet to ask him for this gift of eternal life that only comes through Jesus, I ask you today to come to Him and ask. It is a gift. There is nothing you can do to earn it, the gift is free…all you have to do is ask.

Blogging Through The Bible: Genesis 3:9-15

When we left off last time in our journey through the Bible, the man and woman have just eaten the fruit. We began to see some of the first consequences of sin: loss of innocence, shame, loss of intimacy. This loss of intimacy manifested itself by the man and woman making loincloths out of fig leaves to hide from each other, but even more importantly in their hiding from God as they heard him in the garden. That takes us to where we are today in verse 9…

God asks the man, “Where are you?”

Obviously, God knows all things, so he didn’t really need to ask this question, or the question that follows for that matter. He knows where man is, he knows what has happened. He asks these questions I believe for a couple of reasons. One, he wanted the man to think about where he was. To contemplate what had happened. It’s sort of like when I see my kids doing wrong, I will ask them, “What are you doing?!?” Obviously I know what they are doing, but I want them to stop and think about what they are doing, and to help them to see that this is not what they should be doing.

It’s the same thing with man. God had commanded man not to eat the fruit, yet he did. He disobeyed God. He did wrong, and he knew it. He hid from God…He was afraid, and rightly so. Disobedience of God has costly consequences, and God had already informed the man and woman what those consequences would be. Death.

Man told God he was afraid. He knew he was naked, so he hid. God then asked man how did he know he was naked, who told him? “Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you  not to eat from?” (3:11)

Here, man has an opportunity to confess his sin and disobedience. Which I believe is the second reason for these questions God is asking.  I’ve often wondered how things might have been different had man confessed his sin…I suppose we will never know…But we do know how the man responded, and if you’re like me, you see yourself in this story. Instead of acknowledging his sin, the man blamed the woman, and even God himself. “The woman YOU gave to be with me– she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate.” (3:12) Man is essentially saying, “It’s not my fault God! You gave me the woman, if she hadn’t been here, this never would have happened! She ate the fruit first, then I ate it.”

God then turns his attention to the woman, and asks her what she has done. She takes the same approach as the man. Instead of accepting responsibility, she blames the serpent, “He deceived me, and I ate.” (3:13) This was certainly true, but the serpent wasn’t force-feeding her. She ate the fruit because she wanted to. The same was true for the man.

God then turns his attention to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life.” (3:14)

But here is where things get good…

“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (3:15)

If we’re unfamiliar with the Bible, this last verse might seem a bit strange or confusing…But, this is actually one of the most important verses in the Scriptures. Genesis 3:15 is the first prophecy of the coming Messiah. We know that to be Jesus Himself. Right after man has sinned and sin and the curse has entered the world, we have a glimmer of hope. The Gospel is being preached to us right here…

There will be hostility between the serpent and the woman, and between her seed (her children) and the seed of the serpent.Yet, God says He (The seed of the woman) will strike the head of the serpent. This is a picture of Satan’s defeat. The defeat of sin. A blow to the head is a death blow. Satan will be crushed by the seed of the woman…We know this ultimately to be through Christ. But we also see a glimpse as to how this would happen…”You (the serpent) will strike his heel.” The seed of the woman would be wounded. Here we have a picture of the cross. We know that Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross…We know that he died there…But we also know that he didn’t stay there. Death couldn’t hold him, and after three days he rose from the dead after satisfying the penalty for sin…Which we’ve already seen from our studies is death. So here in Genesis 3:15 we have a clear reference to Christ, his cross, and how Satan will ultimately be defeated. Amazing!

I had intended to go further, but I find myself in that familiar position of not wanting to stretch this out too long, and knowing that I can’t do the rest of the chapter justice in just a few words…so, keep a watch for the next post. We will pick up in verse 16 next time.

My Biggest Problem & The Beauty of The Struggle

Life is hard. I think most of us can agree with this statement. Certainly there is much beauty that surrounds us, but the undeniable truth is that life is also quite the struggle. Most of us spend our days either ignoring these struggles, or simply trying to avoid them.We just have to grin and bear it, and eventually we will be able to move past the struggle, and once again we will be see the beauty. The beauty is what we are after, but the struggle seems to be where we often find ourselves.

Two things are on my mind this morning.

How we respond to the struggles of life says much about us. My default is to blame other people or to blame my circumstances. I am a perfect illustration of Genesis 3:12-13. After man sinned in the garden, God asked man what happened…Instead of fessing up he decided to blame both the woman and even God himself…”This woman YOU gave me, she is the one who gave me the fruit!” In the same way, the woman also blamed the serpent. Neither the man nor the woman were willing to take the blame for their own actions. Instead of appealing to and trusting in the mercy of God, they chose to take the low road and say, “It isn’t my fault!”

Now, perhaps we can give Adam and Eve a pass. They’d never sinned before, so perhaps they didn’t have that great a grasp on the mercy of God. Perhaps they didn’t fully understand how this grace thing worked. We don’t have this excuse. We’ve been seeing people sin for quite a while. We’ve only lived in the midst of sinners. In fact, all we’ve ever been is sinners. Yet, we’ve also seen grace in action, especially in the person of Christ.

The point I’m trying to make is this. My biggest problem isn’t my circumstances. My biggest problem isn’t other people. My biggest problem is myself. The struggle is there for all of us. Yet, the issue is not really the struggle, but how I respond to the struggle. Do I blame everyone, including God? Or do I accept the struggle, accept my responsibility for the struggle, and hand it over to God appealing to his rich steadfast love and mercy? (Psalm 51:1) Turning it over to God is the only right answer. This is true whether we are speaking of sin (our own or of someone else) or any other struggle of life. The fact is, whatever your struggle, whatever your circumstance…God has you there for a reason. This doesn’t make it easy, but seen in the proper light, wherever you are, whatever ever your situation…is an opportunity to glorify God. (I am reminded once again of Philippians 1:20-27)

And this takes me to my last point. Perhaps the struggle is the point. Perhaps the struggle is the beauty of it all. There is nothing more beautiful than the love, mercy, and grace of God. This is never more evident than in the midst of trying times. It might take us a while to see it, but once we are able to re-center and refocus ourselves on God we know this to be true. Apart from these struggles we could never know the the mercies of God, at least not in any experiential way. This is true in speaking of sin, sickness, or even death. It’s even true when the kids are driving you nuts or the drive-thru is slower than it should be. So, perhaps the struggles are there to point us to God.

Maybe, just maybe, the struggle isn’t the opposite of beauty…Maybe, the struggle is all part of the beauty.