It’s not uncommon that I’m asked the question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Most pastors, youth ministers, and fellow Christians will tell you that this is often the most difficult question to answer. In a world where we are all looking around and seeing horrific things occur on a daily basis, it’s easy to ask, “WHERE ARE YOU GOD?”
In my own life, I feel that I’ve asked this a lot… It seems that every time things begin to align for me, when my life feels “normal,” or when I feel like I’m catching my breath, something happens to either myself or a loved one… And I find myself, once again, questioning the God of the world… I will even admit that there are times when I completely begrudge praying to Him, seeking Him, and desiring Him more than anything else in my life. I tend to look around and see others who deny Him, and I wonder if maybe my heart has been foolish to believe that a GOOD and GRACIOUS God could allow the things I witness, encounter, and experience.
In church recently, we’ve been reading through scripture and attempting to understand the weight and depth of the cross. One of our pastors, Butch, asked us a loaded question last week… “Do you desire anything MORE in this world than being more like Jesus?” I really thought about this a lot this week, as I considered the things I cling to, because often those things express our deepest desires. I CLING to being a wife, because I love my husband deeply and undeniably. I CLING to being a daughter and a sister, because I respect and honor my family immeasurably. I CLING to being a friend, because I believe that my friends are some of the greatest people I’ve ever known. I CLING to being a scholar, because I believe that education is power. I CLING to being a forever home decorator, because I love making my home a gathering place and sanctuary for all who come in… But do I really CLING to Jesus? Do I CLING to him in a way that expresses, shouts, and shows the world that He alone is my DEEPEST and GREATEST desire?
As I was asking myself this weighted question, I searched for why my heart doesn’t always cling to the God of hope, peace, and love… And I realized that in my deepest heart, when things don’t go right in my life, I blame God… I blame Him for not giving me what I want, I blame Him when I don’t think I have what I need, and I blame him when I see corrupt people continue to succeed. And this, I have come to find is the core of where my heart needs continual, deep, and honest sanctification… Because in order to CLING to Jesus, in order to desire Him over everything else in life, I HAVE to want to be more like Him… And in order to become more like Him, I must endure and understand suffering.
Matthew 27:46 states, “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Jesus knew the ultimate suffering. He came from a place where He knew no hurt, no pain, no disappointments, and no evil… And He chose to take all of those horrific parts of the world on in order that we may come to know Him… In order that we may come to be like Him. He hurts every single time we sin… He hurts every single time that we cry out because this world is unfair… He hurts when men are killed, when shootings occur, when hearts get broken, when friends turn their backs, and when money overpowers moral codes… HE HURTS.
God loves us enough to make a way for us to know Him… However, most of us neglect to realize what it truly means to follow Jesus, wholeheartedly…
To accept Him is to follow Him… To follow Him is to know Him… And to know Him is to become more like Him.
So to answer the loaded question, the question that many choose to shy away from… We have to undergo pain, suffering, heart ache, hurt, anguish, and trials in order to truly know Jesus and become more like Him. Because it is only after we semi-understand the unbelievable amount of suffering He endured, that we are able to fully appreciate what He did on the cross, what He did to save us, and what He did to love us. Romans 12:9 says that we must CLING to what is good and HATE what is evil… My biggest prayer in my life is that I will continuously choose to CLING to the goodness, mercy, love, and sacrifice of Jesus… And even when the evils and trials of this world attempt to destroy my joy and vision of Him, that I will recognize those hardships as an opportunity to be refined into His image. I’m thankful to worship a God who is more concerned about my continual sanctification, refinement, and heart than He is about my current and worldly happiness.
Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Written by: Logan