Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Does God Make Bad Things Happen?

This question was posed in a Sunday morning church service not long after our current pastor arrived. He was met with a collective resounding, "No."

I waited for the quiet and shouted out, "Yes."

Someone behind me gasped. The irony is that someone else laughed, and I still smile to think about it. You hopefully won't hear me gloat too often, but on this occasion I am able to say I was right and everyone else was wrong.

Forgive me for going all Christianese cliché platitudey on you, but the new preacher also split the hair (if you want to call it that) by asking, “Can we say that God allows bad things to happen? Or does He truly make bad things happen?”

This time there was wisely no response from the congregation. They’d been off-set, and rightly so. Just because you’re a Christian, it doesn’t mean life will be a bed of roses. In fact, quite the opposite sometimes (as the Apostles would attest).

In my own life, I knew God had made “bad” things happen to get my attention, to keep me from going down wrong paths and to get me back on track where He was about to regain the control I said I’d give Him in the first place.

 Check out the scriptures and decide for yourself if the question posed is true.

“...when the LORD binds up the bruises of His people and heals the wounds He inflicted.” Isaiah 30v26b.

Or check out this section of a song from Deuteronomy 32:

39 “See now that I myself am he!
   There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
   I have wounded and I will heal,
   and no one can deliver out of my hand.
40 I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear:
   As surely as I live forever,
41 when I sharpen my flashing sword
   and my hand grasps it in judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
   and repay those who hate me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
   while my sword devours flesh:
the blood of the slain and the captives,
   the heads of the enemy leaders.”

 Sounds like something bad is going to happen, does it not? Yeah, let’s sing about that.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” 1 Samuel 16v14

If the Lord can send an angel, demons also remain under His bidding. Just because they got cast out of Heaven doesn’t mean they’re on their own, right?

“But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.” 1 Samuel 1v5 (The Lord later opened her womb and Samuel was a good result for all of Israel!)

Make no mistake. God can and does make bad things happen. Why? If we are honest, we don’t need three sermons, four chats with the pastor and an appearance from Michael the archangel to figure out the answer (even though a direct appearance might occasionally help).

All things in this imperfect world remain under God’s control, even while some of what happens is the direct result of the actions of sinful man. We make bad things happen all the time, everyday, non-stop and without fail. In addition, the world is under a curse of sin and it's no fun. His purposes are not always for us to know, yet sometimes we aren’t wholly obedient to Him and need a little realigning, and really that is the main theme behind the majority of ‘bad things’ in the Bible.

In 1998 I was diagnosed with leukaemia and God healed me but I still had to persevere with two years of chemo. In my spirit from the get-go, I knew that whichever way it turned out, I belonged to God. He created me, so why should the pot ask the Potter what His intentions are? My being diagnosed with cancer opened up answers for a friend who’d had the exact same kind about ten years before. Suddenly the inability to understand why it had happened to him was replaced with understanding, and in his words, “It was so I could help you!” For him, the last vestiges of confusion seemed to fall right away, and it was a beautiful thing.

At the heart of whatever difficulty we have in accepting God can and does make bad things happen lies our human belief that nothing should go wrong when our perception of God is that He wouldn’t do a thing like that. The truth roughs up our belief system. God wouldn’t do it, but He’d allow it, right? His Jeremiah 29 plans are for our future and hope and all that, yes. That is His plan. Key word = plan.

Check these things out in the Word. Next time you read a passage, don’t let your trained subconscious mind tell you anything other than the truth. God is all-powerful. We’re not mice on the treadmill any more than He is Father Christmas, doing only what we ask to keep our lives feeling fulfilled.

The beauty is that He is a God of mercy—in fact, the only God of mercy across the vast board of “religions”! Let’s not forget that He sent Jesus our way for His purpose of redemption, to save the world through Him and not to condemn the world, so you don’t need to fear or be afraid. When bad things come it could be for growth, for regaining your attention, for judgement/discipline, or some other reason. It might not even be about you, because you always wanted to be a vessel fit for His use, right? Between you and God, you will know.

Life happens. This is a whole week’s worth of topic, but for now...

Decide: Does knowing God does make bad things happen rub your faith up the wrong way? Are you able to pinpoint any time in your life where God has used a bad incident to capture your attention? Has a bad thing happened you couldn’t see a purpose for but made you grow because of it?

Jonah prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4v2

Il adressa cette prière à l'Eternel:
   ---Ah, Eternel! Je l'avais bien dit quand j'étais encore dans mon pays. Et c'est pour prévenir cela que je me suis enfui à Tarsis. Car je savais que tu es un Dieu plein de grâce et de compassion, lent à te mettre en colère et riche en amour, et que tu renonces volontiers aux menaces que tu profères.

1 comment:

  1. I am at a loss for words. I think this post will be printed out and discussed at our home group when next we meet. I am thinking seemingly different views are merely semantics but I have to give this some serious thought.