It’s been a long week of anxiety, grief, fear, questioning, sorrow and yet at the same time, gratitude for the sovereign God we serve. Our God is a good God—ALL the time. We got the news of the horrific disaster in Moore on Monday from a neighbor and then I called my dear friend whose daughter lives in Moore, only to hear that she had lost her home and her 8 year-old daughter was missing at the Plaza Elementary School. I can’t describe the deep and immediate grief that gripped my heart, especially being 800 miles away. The thought that she was in harm’s way was almost more than I could bear. After an agonizing evening, our precious little one was found safe and sound. Oh, praise be to God, how blessed we have been. At the same time, such a deep grief for those families who did not receive the same good news as we did. Too many of her classmates will never return home. Gal. 6:2 reminds us of our obligation, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Our prayers are with that grieving community.
How do we deal with this? What is our answer to those around us who question the “GOODNES” of a God who would allow such things to happen? Those are deep questions and ones that we cannot answer fully in this short format but let’s take a little time to at least share some of the scriptural basis for our confidence in the “goodness” of our God. Daniel 2:20-23 is a prayer of thanksgiving that Daniel prayed (regarding God’s answer to his request) “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. 23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers……”. Now some of you may be saying, ‘this is a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance but what about the tragedies like what has happened in Moore, OK’? Where is God when things are darkest? When things don’t make sense to us?
Let’s look at the “epitome” of suffering in the scripture (other than Christ), Job. Job 1:8-12 “ And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect (spiritually mature) and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth(hates) evil? 9 Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” What do we learn about Job? He was a 1) spiritually mature (perfect) man, 2) upright, 3) feared God and 4) hated (eschewed) evil. We see that God had blessed, protected and provided for Job and his family so immeasurably that Satan himself had noticed!!! Yet what did God “allow” Satan to do to Job? Afflict him. Why? Bad things happen to good people in a fallen world (see Genesis 3). God has a purpose even when I don’t know it!
Well, without presuming on God’s reasoning, we could see if we had the time to share the whole book, that God reveals HIS SOVEREIGNTY—HE IS IN CHARGE. A few of the verses that I find helpful and revealing about God and His character include: Job 1:21-22 “And (Job) said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” This was Job’s response to the first set of tragedies. When put through more (after Satan requests permission from God to afflict his body) he responds thus: ”Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil(adversity)? In all this did not Job sin with his lips”. How often do we respond as Job’s wife did, rather than as Job did? I also love Job’s confidence in God–: Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” How did Job have such confidence in God? He KNEW HIS GOD!!!! He knew that what God has promised, God will do! We see this in Job 19:25 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:” Job knew HIS God and that He was coming for His own at a time in the future. His confidence was in the God who keeps His word, and that’s where our confidence must rest. But I must know His word to have confidence in it!!!
In John 14:1-6 we see that Jesus comforted His disciples with similar words about the future hope, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In one of the most important scriptures of the New Testament, Jesus clearly reveals that HE IS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD!!!! Jesus unashamedly proclaimed to be the ONLY WAY—I didn’t say it God did!! And yes, Jesus is God (remember John 1:1-3). Our confidence is in the creator of the universe, who came, lived a sinless life, and then died on the cross for my sin!!! Not His own! (See Heb 4:15 & 2 Cor 5:21)
So what about the suffering? John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” And Romans 8:18-22 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. … 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” We live in a fallen world that won’t be fixed until Jesus returns. In the meantime we must know our God and learn to trust and rest in HIM! (Ps 37:3-8 & Prov 3:5-6) May your week be filled with HIS glory and grace no matter the difficulty?