When Bad Things Happen

When Bad Things Happen

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  — Matthew 28:20

If there is one FAQ that I am asked, it is this one:  Why does God allow terrible things to happen?  We have certainly not lacked for terrible and tragic news this past year.  When those kids got shot at Sandy Hook Elementary, the internet lit up with accusations toward God.  Where was He?  Why didn’t He prevent it?  I have received some e-mails asking me to write on the subject, but honestly, I just didn’t know what to write.  There are many people who are witnessing to their friends and co-workers who tell me that their friends and co-workers just can’t serve a God who allows tragedies to happen.

Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I do believe God has given me some revelation on the matter and wants me to write this WMD.  First of all, the god who does not allow bad things to happen to good people does not exist.  I know many of you think he does, I thought he did too for a long time.  That is until my wife miscarried our second baby.  When that happened, I was confronted by the true God of my Bible that does allow bad things to happen.  Not only that, I had to face the reality that He allows really good things to happen to wicked people.  He does good to people who mock Him and want nothing to do with Him.  When we miscarried our babies, I didn’t like Him very much.  I liked Him even less when the news gave a report of a woman throwing her baby in the trash.  My favorite sarcastic remark to Him was “Seriously?”

Looking back, I love the fact that God was with me.  I wasn’t mature enough in the Lord at the time to appreciate that fact.  Yes, I was complaining and moaning and pointing out little obvious facts like He didn’t already know, but He remained with me.  I stayed in His word looking for answers.  All I could seem to find in the Bible was time after time where all these bad things happened to these people who were trying to serve Him.  Joseph got thrown in prison.  Daniel got thrown in the lion’s den.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego got thrown in the fire.  David’s first baby with Bathsheba died.  Peter got crucified…upside down.  John got exiled to the island of Patmos.  Could God not have stopped all of these events from happening?  Of course He could have.  But nowhere does He ever promise in the Bible that He will.

So, where does that leave today’s true followers of Christ?  Well, it leaves us in a world of uncertainty.  It has always been a world of uncertainty.  It leaves us in a world where God has given every single person free will.  You, me, and every other person can choose to do what we want.  Unfortunately, if that means someone wants to shoot up a school with a gun…they can, provided that their plan is well thought out.  If someone wants to blow people up at the conclusion of the Boston Marathon…they can, provided their plan is executed well enough.  On the day before I wrote this WMD, I was driving home from the lake.  A truck going well over 100 mph got right on my bumper and then tried to pass in a no passing zone really close to a curve up ahead.  As soon as he made that decision, a car came around the curve.  If I had not pulled off the road and come to a stop I would have witnessed the worst head on collision I have ever seen.  The driver of that truck was completely free to do that.   You are free to make any decision you want, but unfortunately, so is everybody else.

I realize that the comfort you take in this next paragraph is going to depend on your maturity in Christ.  I was a Christian for over 15 years before these next words began to make any difference in my heart and life.  Here are the words:  “And surely I am with you always.”  The more I think about it, the more wonderful these words get.  I have seen true men and women of God go through the worst tragedies.  I have also seen them go through with unbelievable poise.  They talk about how good God still is, they talk about how His presence is more real to them that it has ever been before.  This, to me, is proof that Matthew 28:20 is true.  Even though I was hurt and angry after our miscarriages, God never left me.  He even used it to draw me closer to Him and place more of His Presence on my life.  To this day He has not removed any of it…His presence has remained with me.    I can cry and weep at the drop of a hat when He cranks it up.  It is by far the greatest feeling that can be experienced on this Earth.  I can’t imagine how awesome it will be in Heaven.

I used to so often pray “the prayer of protection” over my family.  It was very trite and very ritualistic.  “Lord, please protect my family…DON’T let anything bad happen to them.”  After a few years of this God simply asked me “Do you trust me?”  I wondered why He asked me this right after I prayed the prayer of protection.  I thought about it for a while.  I realized that I was once again making Him that god who does not exist.  I was making Him the god who was there simply to do my will.  I was still making those deals we so often make:  “If you will (keep my family safe, get me the job, let me win the lottery, blah, blah, blah) I will (read the Bible, go to church, live right, do better, blah, blah, blah)”  Once again, my immaturity was obvious.

Here is the deal:  He has promised to be with me.  I am going to hold Him to that promise.  No matter what happens to me or my family, He has promised to be with me.  I have read Foxe’s book of Martyrs, those people died boldly and with complete confidence in Christ…He was with them, just like He promised.  I have talked with people who have lost children, lost spouses, lost parents, lost people that they truly and deeply cared about.  The ones who don’t know Christ seem to “go off the deep end.”  They try to use alcohol, drugs, work, or whatever they can to just “get their minds off it.”  The ones who do know Christ use it for His Glory.  They talk of how He has been with them every step of the way.  They make other people want this peace and faith that they have.  God is with them.

Bad things happen.  Eventually they are going to happen to you, and eventually they are going to happen to me.  You will go through these tragedies one of two ways:  with Him, or without Him.

I choose with Him.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  — Matthew 28:20

Later

Adam

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About wednesdaymorningdevotional

I am currently the pastor of Lifeline Community Church in Fair Play, South Carolina. I also teach mathematics to middle schoolers. I have been publishing devotionals every Wednesday morning for about 7 years now. If you would like to listen to any of my actual sermons, visit www.lifelinecc.com.
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