Why Do Bad Things Happen? 

Job 30:17
“My bones are pierced in me at night, And my gnawing pains take no rest.”

One of the great quandaries we face in life is how to reconcile the problem of evil with what we understand about the nature of God. The Bible teaches us the God is love and that He cares about each of His children and desires what is best for us. At the same time life seems to teach that evil runs rampant and bad things happen to good people. When we see an evil person suffer we might be able to chalk it up to justice but when we see those we perceive to be innocent impacted by great difficulty we often scratch our heads in bewilderment, struggling to understand how a loving God could allow such things to happen. No doubt the experiences of Job fit into this categories. If we are going to understand the problem of evil there are a few things we need to keep in mind.

First most of the things we regard as evil stem not from nature or an act of God but from the selfish desires of sinful men. We read of massacres taking place around the world which are driven by man’s drive for power or possessions. War, famine, starvation and the like are not a result of the hand of God but of men who refuse to submit their selfish will to the authority of God. Just the other day I was approached by a man whose friend was in a car accident where she almost lost her leg. The accident was caused by another driver who was texting. He asked me how God could allow this to happen. I find it interesting that an accident caused by a person who put self above the law and concern for others could be blamed on God. If we fail to see the real problem we will never find an adequate solution.

The story of Job presents us with an entirely different issue. The struggles he faced were not caused by men but allowed by God. As he stood in anguish because God allowed him to suffer even though he was by all standards a righteous man. In this case we want to ask how God could allow bad things to happen to a good man? It is important that we not only ask the question but that we are also willing to receive the answer. One thing we see in scripture is that what we perceive to be a bad thing is not always bad. The story of Joseph serves as a good illustration of this. We would all say that it is a bad thing if our brothers go on a jealous rampage, throw us into a pit and sell us off as a slave. We would all agree that it is a bad thing to be accused falsely of rape, sent to prison and forgotten in the dungeon. But that is partly because we cannot always see the big picture. God wanted to rescue Israel from famine so he strategically placed Joseph in a place where he could be selected as counselor to the king. It was the prison that prepared Joseph for the palace.

We are certain to face difficulties in this life. We do after all live in a fallen world with fallen people. But if we are willing to embrace the struggles we are facing we may find that what we thought to be a bad thing actually turned out to be a great benefit for the furtherance of God’s kingdom.

Jim

 

Complaints

Job 10:1
“My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”

Even a casual reading of the book of Job will reveal that this man is enduring intense suffering. His pain is both physical and emotional and has been intensified by he accusations and attacks he received from those he presumed to be his friends. It seems like Job has reached the boiling point and cannot endure it any longer. Under the pressure of his circumstances he determines to “Give free course to his compliant.” In other words, the guardrails are being removed and Job is giving himself license to freely complain about his circumstances.

While we can empathize  and even relate to Job we also understand that complaining about what is going on will not bring about any positive changes in him or his circumstances. We know that complaining will get his eyes off the Lord and will cause him to be even more fixated upon his trials. We know that complaining will act like a fog, affecting all those who are around him and will cause others to want to avoid being with him. We know that complaining even has the ability to infect others and turn a people of faith into a people of doubt and discouragement.

It is important that we do not let circumstances determine how we will live but determine to trust and honor God regardless of what is thrown our way. Even if you are surrounded with hardship, be sure not to give free course to your complaint but instead replace murmuring with rejoicing and fix your eyes upon the Lord.

Jim

 

Who Is Afflicted 

Job 6:14
“To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

Life is filled with opportunities to minister to hurting people. Sometimes these hurts are caused by the unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances, other times they are self inflicted. Regardless of the cause we are all surrounded with opportunities to “strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees.”

In the midst of his pain filled trial, Job gives an insight that will help each of us do a better Job “comforting the fainthearted and upholding the weak.” He pleads with his friends to show him kindness.

One of the chief character traits in the life of Jesus was his compassion. He was not quick to be judge and jury of a person’s actions but to show forth His loving kindness and care. We see this on multiple occasions. We observe Him stretching forth His hand to touch a leper, providing food for the hungry masses and extending mercy to the woman caught in adultery. It is clear that although Jesus knew their sin, He wanted to emphasize His grace.

Imagine what it must have been like for Job. He lost his family, livelihood and health. His wife who had been his companion is so overcome with grief that she begins to become filled with bitter anger. Now his friends who came to comfort him put him under the microscope and begin to examine his every action. Instead of seeking to come alongside and build him up they determine their role is to correct his actions.

While I understand there is a time for correction and even for rebuke it is also important to remember it is the task of the Holy Spirit to convict and correct and the role of the believer is to love. The more we show kindness to the hurting the greater chance they will have of being freed from the miry clay that is bogging them down.

Jim

 

Poison 

Job 42:10
“And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Job lost his health, wealth, family and friends, yet he “Did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22),No matter what the devil threw at him, he remained faithful to the Lord. When his wife told him he should curse God and die, he responded, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”(Job 2:10)  We are told “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” However, by the end of the book, Job, in fact, sinned and charged God with doing wrong. It wasn’t his circumstances or the attacks of the devil that led Job to sin, but the treatment he received from his friends. What Satan was unable to do, his friends did. Their treatment led him to sin with his mouth. It is no wonder Job declared,

Job 16:2 “I have heard many such things; Miserable comforters are you all!”

Job seems to have had every reason to hold a grudge against those who tore him down instead of building him up, but he chose to forgive. We read “The LORD restored Job’s losses WHEN he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” The blessings of God flowed into Job’s life when he chose to forgive those who had wronged him. No matter how we have been wronged, forgiveness is always the road to take. Failing to forgive will slow your progress and keep you from experiencing the blessings of God in your own life. One man put it like this, “Harboring bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else will die.”

Sadly, Job is not alone in this experience. It is common, in our times of greatest need, to find those who we thought were our closest friends and allies are no where to be found. I have met many people who wandered from the Lord and are currently backslidden. They once had a vibrant relationship with the Lord, but that bond is in the distant past. Now, they find themselves far from the Lord and missing out on His blessings. Frequently, their fall from the Lord can be traced to a time when they were hurt by another Christian, or let down by their church. Instead of forgiving and moving forward, they harbored bitterness; and it has eaten away at their relationship with the Lord.

Let’s learn a lesson from the closing verses of Job. No matter how we have been wronged, lets choose the road of forgiveness and allow the Lord to pour forth His blessings on our life.

Pastor Jim

 

He Is A Big God 

Job 41:1 “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?

Job 40:15 “Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you; He eats grass like an ox.”

Job 40:9 “Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His?”

There is an interesting story in the life of Elijah where he fled in fear from a wicked queen who vowed to take his life. His fleeing led him deep into the desert, where he hid in a cave. There in hiding, he heard the sound of a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a fire, but he heard the voice of God only in a whisper. Job is having the exact opposite experience. He is hearing from God and His voice is like a whirlwind thundering in his ears. The truths being revealed are so profound they shouted loudly to Job. Those truths proclaim that God is unlike Job and Job is unlike God.

To make this point, God reminds Job, there are creatures in the animal kingdom that are beyond man’s ability to tame. He describes two creatures, one a land animal and the other a sea creature, that are so strong that a man with all his abilities would be incapable of containing. The purpose is to teach us,  since we cannot understand the ways of nature, how can we expect to fully understand the ways of the one who brought nature into being.

When Job finally grasps the fact that God is beyond his understanding, he is freed from the accusations he had brought against Him. As long as Job had a small view of God, he grew resentful of his circumstances. I think it is time for us to allow the Scriptures to expand our view of God. We need to see that there is an enormous, even eternal gap, between God and His creation. It is not that we cannot know Him, but that we need to know Him as God, and walk with Him accordingly.

Instead of shrinking God into a little image you can understand, allow the Bible to reveal the vastness of who He is, and shine into your life and circumstances.

Pastor Jim

 

Bad Things. Good people 

Job 40:8
Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?”

When Job’s counselors accused him of wrong, he began to justify himself before them. They claimed he was a sinner, so he declared his righteousness. As this argument continued to develop, Job’s justification began to cast blame upon God. If Job was innocent, then God must be wrong for allowing these things to happen to him. Perhaps this was the earliest development of the accusation we offer hear today, “how could God allow bad things to happen to good people.”

God responds to this by pointing out that Job’s defense is really a form of accusation against the nature of God. This is not uncommon. The children of Israel did it in the wilderness when they accused Moses of leading them out of Egypt to die in the wild. The apostles did it when they accused Jesus of not caring about them when the waves began to crash over the boat, and we do it whenever we complain that the circumstances we are facing are unfair.

This is not just the behavior of the new, weak or carnal Christian. This is something we all struggle with. It is often difficult to accept that an uncomfortable or even painful experience could be allowed by a God who loves us. However, when we look at the heroes of faith, we come to realize that many of them faced extremely difficult experiences, and those experiences are often what forged them into the people they became. I think immediately of Paul and Silas, who upon being arrested, beaten, shackled and placed in prison, began to sing songs of worship. It was their attitude of trust, rather than accusation, that led to others coming to faith in Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Bible For $100 

Job 39:1
“Do you know the time when the wild mountain goats bear young? Or can you mark when the deer gives birth?”

Job was confused. He did not understand how God could allow so much suffering in his life. When God finally speaks to Job, He asks a simple question, “How long is the pregnancy of a deer or a goat?” These are not difficult questions. They could easily be answered by observing nature. Yet, it seems Job did not have the answer. To be quite honest, I didn’t know either, and had too look it up. Why would God ask him that question? What does the birth cycle of wild animals have to do with the trials Job was facing? I think the answer is found in a question Jesus asked Nicodemus.

John 3:12 “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”

Job had to realize, life is filled with concepts we do not understand. Just because our finite minds cannot comprehend something, does not make it untrue or unfair. If Job was able to look at life through God’s eyes, he would find answers to many of the questions which plagued him. Certainly, there are some things we will not understand until we step out of time and into eternity. However, many questions can be answered if we look at life through the eyes of God. We do that by looking into the pages of the Bible, seeing who God is, and how He works.

Years ago as I was watching “Jeopardy”, a contestant answered question after question correctly. I was amazed at his knowledge of history, science, music and more. But when it came to a question from the Bible, he was at a loss. The question could have been answered by most of the children in our third grade Sunday School class, but he was stumped; he had no idea what the correct answer was. Too often, we are like that man. We are confused because we fail to take time to get to know God, as He has revealed Himself in His Word.

Whatever you might be facing, take time today to read your Bible, and get to know the Author. If you are new to the Bible start reading the Gospel according to John.

Pastor Jim