Tag Archive: Hope

Why do Good People Suffer?

How would you respond if everything you had was stripped from you…

  • Your Finances
  • Possessions
  • Car
  • Home and
  • Children

…within the space of a day?

Some of this is happening now, to those losing businesses or jobs due to the Coronavirus.

And after all this…you got a terrible, wasting sickness of painful sores from head to toe that hurt and itch so much you take broken pottery to scrape your skin, top to bottom?

On top of that, your spouse or family members tell you to curse God and die to leave this agony behind?

Many of you will recognize I’m talking about the Old Testament character of Job, the oldest written book in the Bible.

Is God capricious? Is He playing with Job?

Does Job have a right to question God about how He’s handling Job’s crisis?

Is sickness or loss (finances, property, family) always a judgment of God against sin in a person’s life?

God told Satan Job was a righteous man. Blameless.

Satan argued that Job was righteous because God had blessed him. If God removed His blessing, Job would curse God.

So God gave Satan permission to torment Job, first with loss of oxen, camels, sheep, servants, and his ten children. And Job remained righteous (“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21).

So Satan came back and said, “Yes, God, but if you take his health he’ll surely curse you.”

Again, God gave permission for Satan to touch Job’s body, but not to kill him.

Job had four friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, who came to comfort him. For seven days they sat quietly with him, seeing his agony. This was good, supportive.

At the end of his rope!

Then they began to tell Job, one at a time, that he must have sinned or he would not be suffering like this. “It must be your fault!” These are not the friends I want with me when I’m in trouble.

While the friends judged his heart and talked to him about God, they never talk to God about Job. They never asked for him to be healed, to have his fortunes reversed, to stop scratching the sores on his body.

This question is often asked. Why do good people suffer and evil prevail?

Is all misfortune the judgment of God against an individual, all blessing a result of the good someone has done?

God was pretty clear on this. He continued to declare Job righteous.

The four “friends” tried to identify sin and guilt in Job. He responded to each challenge: he treated his servants well, sacrificed to God after every celebration his party animal children gave in case they cursed God during their revelries, gave to the poor, helped the widows, did not lust after other women or rely on his wealth as his security. If he had done any of these things, Job declared, he would have denied God and should be cursed. But he maintained his innocence.

Finally God interrupted the conversation, speaking in a whirlwind, thundering His own perspective on the situation. But He never directly answered the question of “Why”.

He is God. He created the beauty around us, the animals and huge beasts and people and all we see. He challenged Job’s thinking.

  • Did you make the stars?
  • Do you make the sun rise and set each day?
  • Did you make the earth, mountains, sea, lightning, thunder, rain, animals and plants?
  • Were you there when I did this?
  • Does the thing created question why the Creator made him that way?
  • Do you have the right to demand He explain His decisions?

Instead of answering the “Why me?”, God overwhelms Job with his majesty and sovereignty.

In Job 42:5-6 Job responded.

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”

He no longer defended himself. Rather, Job recognized He could not approach God as an equal. He heard these truths about God’s majesty but now he heard it from God Himself and so, Job changed his mind about the truth of who God is.

Job’s need for truth went deeper than getting an explanation for “Why”. He needed to know that, in all, God was and is God. He is the only One wise and powerful enough to be in charge, to handle everything.

Job’s fortunes were restored in the end, and he and his wife had ten more children. And while those ten didn’t replace the ten who were lost, they did give new life to Job.

After my mother died, I grieved deeply. But her death appeared less peaceful than I would have wanted for her. My sweet, gracious mother who loved Jesus with all her heart, seemed to struggle to let go. I didn’t understand. I wanted an explanation that made sense to my rational mind and hurting soul.

But I began to realize I also felt abandoned by God. I imagine Job felt the same. My deepest pain came from feeling separation from my Father, Savior, Lord.

“I can’t live like this,” I confessed, a statement of agony, not of intent.

And slowly, He reminded me of who He is, that He indeed held my beautiful mother in His hands and she was/is His. Through prayer, scripture reading, sermons, I was reminded of His deep love and care for me, and I began to heal.

So what’s the application for you, for me?

When we suffer, we don’t need to know why so much as we need to put our trust in the One who sent His Son to die for us, to rise from that stone cold grave, conquering death and promising us eternal life in His presence. He has promised to walk with us, never to leave nor forsake us, through any challenge He allows into our path.

Faith doesn’t need to know all the whys. It does need to know God is in charge and is wise enough to handle life properly.

There is a throne in heaven. And it is occupied!

And He is worthy of our praise.

Prayer for our Nation

“The Return,” led by Jonathan Cahn, occurred Friday evening and all day Saturday in Washington D.C., while evangelist Franklin Graham led tens of thousands on a prayer march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.

Don and I watched this significant event most of the day Saturday. I was often in tears of praise and petition to our God!

Its purpose was to bring people together from across the country to pray for repentance and renewal in these United States.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

I Timothy 2:1-2 NIV

And how our nation needs healing in the midst of our pandemic, riots, murders, and fires.

It thrilled my heart to see the estimated 50,000 people walk peacefully – I didn’t even see a police presence! – from the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol, stopping to pray at seven memorials along the way. No riots, no fights, no broken windows or graffiti, just a peaceful march interspersed with small groups praying together along the way.

“People prayed at the World War II Memorial for the military and police, at the Washington Monument for solutions to the pandemic and the end of abortion, and at the National Museum of African American History and Culture for respect and reconciliation between the races — among other stops.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/prayer-march-national-mall/2020/09/26/e401f184-002f-11eb-b555-4d71a9254f4b_story.html

I was pleased to hear Myron Lizer, Vice President of the Navajo Nation, pray for healing of the nations, affirming the key role of the Navajo code talkers in WWII.

Also from The Washington Post article:

“’The country isn’t as divided as they say,’ (attendee Laura Guilfo, attending with a friend) said, gesturing to the thousands milling peacefully near the Washington Monument, where flags were at half-staff for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and near the White House, where Trump was about to announce her replacement at a news conference. ‘The evidence is all around you.’

The women, both Black, said, ”’We look at it from a Christian worldview, not a secular worldview. Evil is now good, and good has become evil. There is no ‘social justice.’ There’s just justice.’”

I know we have a long way to go to achieve racial reconciliation and true justice in our country. But I’m thankful for these men of vision who led us in worshipping our God in the nation’s capitol, who understand our hope lies not in politics, not in trying to “be better,” but in repentance and humility asking God to change our hearts from the inside out. May God have mercy on us!

Let Justice Roll Down!

This 2018 has seen both joys and sorrows, personally and corporately. We look ahead to a new year with the God who is present, who gave Himself that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:10b). He said to Israel that “… I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:24, NLT. May that be our heart’s desire and purpose in the coming year.

“Yes, And … “

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NIV

What did thirteen- or fourteen-year old Mary think when the angel Gabriel appeared to tell her that she, a virgin, would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, and that child would save his people from their sins?

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Luke 1 says Mary was troubled when the angel first appeared to her. And yet, she responds in trust. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  

I’ve always thought of the young Mary as submissive, humble, obedient–a sweet, lovely girl. And I expect she was all that. But what if the emotions around the angel’s message weren’t quite that straightforward for her? 

What if she said yes, but still had questions?

  • How will I tell Joseph?
  • Will he break up with me?
  • Will he love this child?
  • What about all the gossips in this town? Will I be able to hold my head up when I walk down the main street?

When I felt God call me to minister in the Los Angeles ghetto, I said yes. But how was I going to respond when my mother cried, fearing I would be raped, beaten, or killed? 

How is my friend responding when her daughter is preparing to go to a potentially dangerous missionfield, single? I can appreciate the mother’s concerns for her daughter’s emotional and physical wellbeing, her security, her happiness.

Or another friend who has just received a diagnosis of terminal illness and has decided not to go through treatment and its side effects, but to trust God for her remaining days.

So an initial ‘yes’ doesn’t necessarily end the story, does it. But God leads us, one ‘yes’ at a time.

Mary responded with that initial “yes,” and there were many yeses to follow.

  • Yes to her twelve-year old son who stayed behind, conversing with the Temple elders when his mother and Joseph left Jerusalem to return home after Passover.
  • Yes to watching her son ridiculed, attacked, called a fraud.
  • Yes to watching this son she bore mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross to die, in agony of spirit and body.

And yes to His resurrection, to seeing her son alive and changed, knowing He was Son of God, Redeemer, Messiah, Holy One.

So I expect most of us have said “yes” along the way. But what’s the next “yes” in your journey of obedience? In mine?

WEEPING MAY COME …

charles and karen 2 2 4 15Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read my friend’s latest text. “Hours now.” Her husband was at the edge of eternity. And while I rejoiced that Charles would soon be welcomed into Jesus’ loving arms, I hurt.

I hurt for Karen, his beloved wife, who faces a new journey as a widow.

Don and I hurt because we will miss our friend Charles.

And he and I both grieve for the death of our respective first spouses as the pain resurfaces.

It has been a week of sorrow and tears.

Death is the enemy! But it was never part of God’s Plan. We can hate death, hate what it does to separate us from those we love, hate the pain it brings. I. HATE. Death.

But I also have hope…hope that was refreshed as Don and I recently visited Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, and the Mount of Olives where Jesus died and conquered death, and to which He will return. The tomb could not confine Jesus’ broken body to death’s decay. Instead, He, the Master of life and death, ROSE. Because He lives, we too can live–both now and eternally.

Charles has passed from this earth. But Scripture reassures us that he is very much alive in a realm we know by faith, and from the promises of God. I can picture our loving Savior taking our friend in His arms and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

When Don and I learned that Charles had passed, we held each other and cried. As we rested together, a precious song filled my mind.

“It is finished, the battle is over,
It is finished, there’ll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord…”

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” When He came to the village of his friends Mary and Martha, their brother Lazarus had died and been buried. And Jesus cried. He is not removed from our suffering, nor does He leave us to navigate it alone. He has promised NEVER to leave us, NEVER to forsake us.

“When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.” Charles H. Gabriel

I can imagine “our” Charles’ sparkling blue eyes looking around heaven in wonder, his body falling at the feet of Jesus, his tongue proclaiming “My Lord and my God.” I can imagine him thinking, “Oh, Karen, just wait ’til you see Him!”

For Charles, “weeping may (has) endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).

Karen, and those of us who love both Karen and Charles, will weep. We will grieve. We will miss Charles’ infectious smile, his jokes and gentle laugh, his kind words; but we also know that joy will come in the morning, when we who free-christian-clip-art-.126follow Jesus will join Charles and the many others who have gone before, to joy in Christ’s presence forevermore.