Why do Bad Things Happen?

A few weeks ago during lunch break at work one of my co-workers asked the infamous question we all ponder at some point in our life.  Why does God not strike a person down immediately when they do something incredibly evil?  The example of a person harming a child especially in a nasty perverse way was given.  Why does God not swoop in, save the child, and put and end to the evil doer?  My response was just the three letter word “sin”.  It is hard to summarize the entire Bible and God’s plan in just a few sentences.  It is hard to explain and to understand when we think with the concept of time.  Twenty four hours in a day, seven days in a week, three hundred and sixty five days in a year.  We are so bent on instant gratification.  We want our definition of justice served immediately.   God is very clear in His word that at one point in time we will all face His judgement.  It is coming in His time.

Another word that I failed to mention was “freewill”.  God gave us the opportunity to chose Him.  When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden He provided them with every tree and full run of the garden with the exception of not eating from just one tree.  He did this because He wanted His creation to love Him back.  By not eating of the tree they acted out of trust and love.  A desire to respect God’s request.  It is an obedience that does not come from oppression, threat, or slavery that God desires from us.  An obedience that comes from love.  Once Adam and Eve made the choice with their own freewill to eat of that tree the curse of sin fell on creation.   Mankind from that moment on has had a sinful human nature.  The nature to act in evil, selfish, and prideful ways.

If you study the Bible from cover to cover you will see how instead of just wiping out creation He has given chance after chance for people to come to Him.  Ultimately He came to this earth to become a human, to live a perfect sinless life, and to be the ultimate sacrifice and covering for our sins.  We are all lost to the evil ways of our hearts with the only hope of healing and being saved (literally from our own selves) is through Jesus Christ.   The evil that is in each person’s heart is pretty darn scary.

Our pastor in a recent sermon stated that there are three types of people.   There are people that think and act on a hellish level.  The example he gave was these terrorist groups that will behead a person just because they believe differently.  To go with my friend’s question a person that would steal the innocence of a child for their own sick, perverse, selfish gratification is evil it is a hellish mindset.  Then there is the human way of thinking and acting.  If you are good to me I will be good to you.  If you do me wrong I am going to do wrong right back to you.   The final way of thinking and acting is on a heavenly level.  To only do good even when severely wronged.   That means praying for our enemies and actually giving of ourselves even when the person receiving our gift has done evil to us or others.

The only possible way to truly act on the heavenly level is through the strength and power of God.  It is impossible for us on our own.

I fully believe that God calls us to Him first to be His friend then next to spread His love to a dark and fallen world.   Once a believer, allowing Him to change us into a heavenly thinking and acting person allows us to have the opportunity to protect the innocent.  To care for children, orphans, and widows.  Those who physically and mentally can not care for or protect themselves.  To protect others from those who think and act on the hellish level.

There is a lot of injustice in this world, but there is no greater injustice than that which Jesus faced in His death on the cross.  He was absolutely pure with no fault and faced the most gruesome death.  All for us.  The heavenly level came down and gave it all for those who do not deserve anything, but judgment and death. I am one who deserves nothing but death.  I do not deserve this gift of grace and love.  My God also did not stay dead.  He overcame evil and death by rising again and is alive.

An example of how soon our sin starts (which is immediately actually).  I know that even as a two year old I was a little sinner.  I ran into a pad of freshly poured concrete my dad had just finished.  I hid from my mother in clothes racks when shopping.  I climbed on our kitchen cabinets to steal candy and accidently turned the stove on.  This sinful little act ended up starting a pan of grease to catch fire and I, little two year old Anita, burnt our kitchen.  I bit people at the babysitters.  My mom finally had to bite me back to get me to realize that what I was doing was hurting other people.

Bad things happen because of evil.  God has given us the remedy to this evil in our hearts, Jesus.  Not everyone will choose to follow Him.  Not everyone is willing to turn to a heavenly way of thinking.  It is not easy to think heavenly.  God is giving us the opportunity to make this world a little better, to shine His light and love.  Ultimately God will bring judgement.  He will conquer evil once and for all.  He wants people to choose to be on His winning team.  He tells us in this world we will have trouble.  It is an evil fallen world.  God’s ways are eternal and we only understand the concept of time.  In His time He will make all things new and there will be no more of the injustices and sorrows.

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.””

 

Don’t forget the Diet Coke

tears
The way God stirs a person’s heart for a ministry and starts to lay the foundation for this work is utterly amazing. Some of the greatest ministries have come through hardship, pain, and loss. So many foundations are started from pain of the loss of a loved one. Awareness crusades against drunk driving and drugs. Many safety rules, regulations, and safer products have come from those who have lost someone tragically pushing to prevent others from sharing their same grief. It seems as though at this point in time God is leading me to minister to those who are grieving out of my very own grief. Loss of someone you love through death is not necessarily the only cause to grieve. A break in a relationship of any kind will stir grief. Many times there is grief for the loss of health long before a person takes their final breath. Teenage girls and boys go through the stages of grief especially with the first break ups as they start to date and experience young love. Any changes in life can bring about a certain level of grief as the old patterns and familiarity pass away. Grief knows no social, economic, cultural, religious, language, or ethnic barriers. The basic human needs and emotions are the same for all of us.

I was reminded today of the sting that grief brings shopping at the grocery store for a family get together. A bad habit, but my father loved to drink caffeine free Diet Coke. This was a habit I had harassed him to change for a long time. With family parties I still would make sure I bought his favorite soda to drink. At the store I walked past Coke products and the thought “Oh I need to get dad his caffeine free Diet Coke!” fleeted through my mind. As I walked up to the bottles of Coke products my heart sank as I realized that there was no need. Memories of him had been flooding my mind more today than usual. I had not consciously thought of the fact that it was four months ago today that he died, but apparently my subconscious was very aware.

The fact that we all experience grief reminds me that even people that are hard to love may be going through an incredible silent pain. The fact that we all grieve reminds me to have more patience and compassion. The fact that we all grieve reminds me to smile and encourage others more. There are no levels to the experience of loss and each person will experience it in their own way. It is not fair for us to ever think that someone else has a “piece of cake” life because none of us are immune to loss.
As I mentioned in the beginning that some of the greatest ministries of God’s love have come from loss. The greatest ministry being that of His own Son Jesus. Jesus came to this earth fully God and yet fully human. He lived a sinless life. He took the payment of all of our sins on the cross. He grieved in His walk on this earth, he demonstrated tremendous grief as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His greatest grief was at the point on the cross where all the sins of all of mankind were laid upon Him suffering complete separation from God the Father at this point in time. His pain and grief led to His resurrection three days later which leads to the most beautiful promise of love, hope, and redemption fathomable. God’s greatest gift is the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Oh yes we will suffer pain, loss, and grief, but for those who put their faith in Jesus there is indescribable beauty waiting on the other side!!!!!!
1Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”

1John 3:5 “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”

John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

Matthew 26-39 “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Matthew 27:46 “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”

Everlasting Value

When losing someone you love there comes the very painful task of what to do with their belongings. Thankfully mom can take her time with most decisions. In order for dad’s church he pastored to be able to move on, the cleaning of dad’s office at the church was of top priority. Having a day off the week after his death I had the availability to help my mother with this daunting task. Memories flooded my mind of all the moves my dad had helped me with over the years as I traveled to his church. He had helped my sister and I through our college years move in and out of dorm rooms. As a young adult moving to my second apartment my dad sheepishly mentioned that he really did not want to help me move again anytime soon. At the age of twenty-four I told him that I would only move if I were getting married or by the time I turned thirty I was going to buy my own home. A year later from that time I was engaged to my soon to be husband Mike. In less than two years, yes, he was helping during a move yet again. He has always been there with every move of ours, painting, assembling furniture, and selflessly helping anyway he could. When my grandfather died, my dad’s father, I can remember sitting on the back steps of my grandparent’s home. Dad was sweeping the carport for grandma and my grandpa’s shed was directly attached to the carport. As a young boy one of my dad’s chores was to clean and organize my grandpa’s shed. As I sat on those steps I noticed water drops splashing onto the concrete underneath the carport. My eyes panned up my dad’s tall frame to see him leaning onto the broom handle with his face planted on top of his hands. He had started to sob in grief as he remembered the significance of cleaning his father’s shed once again. Well here I was helping with my father’s final move in his years of ministry. He had already mentioned to mom that if anything happened to him to just throw out all of his files upon files of sermons. In later years he had started to save them into the computer, but with thirty-seven years in the ministry the amount of sermons, funerals, weddings, and special programs was still a vast amount. Knowing that it would not be possible to actually read through every one of them I knew that was the only realistic thing that could be done with them. Being logical still didn’t help with the pain of seeing the hours and years of his work go into the dumpster. God started to press on my heart that those sermons are actually everlasting. The ears that heard and took those words God gave dad to heart changed lives and that could never be thrown away, burned, or destroyed. My father was my pastor for twenty-one years of my life and though he probably did not think I listened, I did. Those sermons were investments dad made into my eternity as well as so many others. The eternal perspective has taken such precedence in my life now more than ever before. Everlasting investments have become top priority. Galatians 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” So much of our activities in life are so fleeting. Any work we do on our homes, our yards will just need to be done again. Money spent on material things is fleeting. Money given to missions, ministries, and the needy is everlasting. What we do for others by lending a helping hand, praying for, and sometimes an encouraging smile or word is what is eternal. Lord I pray that you will use my life for the things that are eternal.