12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

Bad things and good people

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The question we always hear
We always hear this one. Especially when things don’t go as smoothly as we’ve come to expect in our world. Our very safe, secure, hassle free, and pain free world.

I don’t mean to make light of the actual pain and suffering that we all feel. I’ve heard stories just today of horrible things that have happened to people not far from me. A home broken into and thousands of dollars worth of property stolen. A child killed foolishly by an angry caretaker. I heard of these today.

But when it comes to our expectations of life and joy, we do have an anticipation that those that are doing good things in the world, especially those who are serving God with purpose, would not face the worst of these things. It prompts the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Among those who do not believe, it sounds like the woman who asked my wife in the hospital, “Why would God allow something like that to happen to someone who is doing His work?” Or, among those who push back against belief, “How can I believe in a God who lets things like this happen?”

The fault in the question
The problem with all of that is that the question, every version, has a fault in its formation. The question assumes that there are people who are so “good” that they deserve little to no difficulty in their lives.

Sadly, that thought is based on a comparison of one person’s morality against another’s. I’m “good” compared to this person’s “bad.” Or if not “bad,” at least worse than me.

And that’s how our world judges each other. We look at ourselves that way. We look at everyone else that way. We all do it.

But when we bring God into the picture, we have to stop applying our self centered perspective to His point of view and consider what He has to say about the issue. What does God say about the condition of every human?

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
-Romans 3:23

“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
-Romans 3:10-12

We are just not capable of being good enough in God’s eyes. In order to do that, we need to stand on the same righteous footing as He does. We don’t have that in us.

Rather, to stand righteous before God, we must put our hope in the work that Christ did on the Cross, and not the works that we do. Ours are not good enough. His is more than enough.

“God made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.”
-2 Corinthians 5:21

But even that righteousness, given to us freely by God if we will receive it, does not qualify us for pain free living here in this world. It qualifies us to stand unashamed before Him in the next.

So please hear what I’m saying. I’m not speaking from the sanitary theological position of the pulpit where I bear no pain but speak of pain in academic terms. I have cancer. I am suffering right now. Pain. Side effects from Chemo. Sleeplessness.

All of that, and I say that I am not good enough to deserve preferential treatment. No one is. This pain is common to humanity, and I am a part of humanity. I hurt, my family bears the burden, my friends worry, and God is still good. His goodness and my pain are not in conflict with one another.

Common to humanity
The Biblical worldview doesn’t allow for some people to receive worldly blessings because of their obedience. Rather, spiritual blessings come from obedience to God. Benefits in the Kingdom to come.

Instead, Jesus says, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” in Matt. 5:45. Blessings and pain happen to everyone. Everyone.

It started in Genesis 3, when humanity sinned against God, and broke the world. No more walking with Him in peace, but labor and toil, briar and bramble, pain and hardship all became the lot of all of us. Romans 8 teaches us that the whole of creation groans in anticipation of its redemption from being under the curse. The earth longs to be made right again.

And, indeed it will be. Revelation 21 promises exactly that. But that time is not this time. Here, we all enjoy the blessings of God alongside the curse of sin and its consequences.

There will be a time when the faithful and obedient enjoy the blessings of a life unfettered by sin. Unentangled with the consequences of sin. But that time is after the walk through this world is over.

To expect that to be happening in this world is an unreasonable and easily frustrated expectation.

The good in the bad
In one of my next newsletters, I want to turn this idea of suffering in our world a little further. I think that I can find good in this hard thing that has found me. I want to share that with you.

How you can pray:

  • Please continue to pray for my ability to eat. Thank you for doing this. I am getting better and eating things I haven’t been able to eat in a few months. I hope to get even better.
  • Pray for Chemo to work at the “miraculous” level. the Oncologist calls this “wildly successful.” This request will not change nor will it be absent from future lists.
  • Pray for the side effects to be minimal. This request will also not change nor be absent. So far, the side effects are present, but also minimal. We have a way to go. The cycle is 21 days and I’m just 6 days into it. I still need your prayers, but I’m grateful for the positive reaction thus far.
  • Pray for my faith to continue to grow. It’s hard to focus on my time with God. It’s hard to focus on anything. I’m a bit foggy, to be honest. It’s taken me a couple of days to write this update. I need Him more than anything, so please pray that I am able to find consistency and focus in the pursuit of Him. – I’m not changing this request from last time. Every word is still true.
  • Pray for my family to remain strong. We’ve gotten some help from my family and from Bonnie’s. It’s been a tremendous blessing.
  • Pray for financial needs to continue to be met. Bills are starting to arrive and they are complex. We need wisdom to sort them well and how best to pay them. I’m on disability, which is a 60% paycheck. I’m grateful for that income, but it is a drastic reduction in pay with a drastic increase in bills.
  • Pray for my pain management. Thanks for praying for this. it has gotten much, much better.
  • Pray for my ability to move about. One of the side effects of the chemo is fatigue and I have been struggling with this. I need to move to maintain muscle tone and just help my body from becoming stiff/less flexible. It’s hard to do when there just seems to be no energy.

Thank you in advance for your prayers. I am praying for you as I write this.

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