Suffering

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.

 

Divine Chill Pill

Image

I’m not sure if anyone uses the term “chill pill” anymore. I’m guessing probably not. So if any of you out there still had any questions, now you know. I am no longer cool. I suppose that’s what 5 kids can do to a guy.(That and a few extra pounds, and a lot less hair.) Well, now that this is confirmed, we can move on the real point of this post. The Divine Chill Pill.

So what exactly is a “Divine Chill Pill?”

Just over a month ago, life was as busy as ever. As I said earlier and as many of you know I have 5 kids. My wife and I both work full time, yet still can’t afford daycare, so we have to alternate our schedules. Between school, work, doctors appointments, and the occasional household disaster, life is tough. Stress is high. It is during these times that it is so easy to lose focus on what is truly important. I know we all have been there. I know I fall into this trap more times that I’d like to admit.

My wife calls me an “all or nothing” type of guy. Whatever I do I throw myself into it completely. Last year after returning to work following being off for about a year, I was excited to get back to the grind. It felt amazing to be back into the swing of things– being productive, doing something I’m good at, and relating to other adults on a regular basis. Slowly, my focus began to shift.(So slowly in fact that I hardly noticed) I had recently left pastoral ministry, a position that afforded me much time for study and prayer. In this new career, this wasn’t quite so easy. In the beginning I made conscious efforts to continue walking faithfully with the Lord. But slowly, after time, my spiritual life became more and more undisciplined. This is hard for me to confess…

As this was happening, things began to get harder. Not so much at work, like I said, I love my work. I’m pretty good at what I do. But at home things were a struggle. Of course, this is always the case, especially with a large family. The question is though, what are you doing in the midst of the struggle. Are you clinging to Christ? Are you keeping him squarely in focus? If you are going through tough times, yet following after Jesus…You are right where you need to be. Sadly, this was not me. My focus on the things of God was nearly gone. Sure I could give God lip service, but that isn’t what he desires.

But the amazing thing about God is this. Even when our hearts are as far as they possibly can be from him. He still wants a relationship with us. He doesn’t leave us in this place. We have a God who never stops pursuing those who are his. And the fact of the matter is, God is very good at doing his job. Though sometimes, we don’t always like his methods.

I spent about a week pouting as God decided to get my attention about a month ago. So how did he do it? I mysteriously tore a muscle in the upper part of my leg. I have no idea how it happened. I just know I woke up in the middle of the night with a cramp like I’ve never had before. For hours I tried to get this cramp to let go of my leg, but nothing I could do would ease the pain. (Now that I type this, this cramp kinda sounds a little bit like God and  his refusal to let go, no matter what I do…) Finally after a few hours, either the cramp eased somewhat, or my leg just grew accustomed to the pain, I had some relief. But, over the following days, the pain kept increasing, to the point that I could hardly walk. I had major bruising all over my leg. I went to the doctor, had an MRI, and they discovered a partially torn muscle.

So, there I was…Stuck on the couch. I could hardly walk. I couldn’t get my own food, could hardly dress myself, or even make it to the bathroom. I couldn’t put my kids to bed, certainly couldn’t work. I was miserable. Like I said, I spent a good week pouting and feeling sorry for myself. Finally, I decided maybe I should get back to reading. My library consists mainly of books on faith, so this is where I went. I also, for the first time in a while spent time deeply studying the Word of God. The natural outflow of this was returning to talking to God in prayer on a regular basis. Finally, I began to see the purpose in everything that was going on.

God was telling me to slow down and focus on Him. He was giving me a “Divine Chill Pill”…

I think God often does this. Usually it isn’t much fun. I’m also well aware that in the grand scheme of things God was really gentle with me. I know many people that have had a “Divine Chill Pill” that I wouldn’t want to swallow. Unfortunately, these pills often taste a whole lot like suffering…But that is the purpose of suffering. To turn our hearts to Christ. While these times aren’t fun, they are certainly necessary. These pills are awfully hard going down, once we grasp the purpose of it all, the benefits are amazing.

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Psalm 119:37

 

 

Perspective in Trials: A Gospel Primer

Striving With God

Image

“More than anything else could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.

View original post 206 more words