This is a question that has always puzzled mankind that walks with God. As it was in the Old Testament, so also is it in the New Testament.
In his encounter with the angel in Judges 6:13, Gideon puts the question in this way: “… Oh my Lord, IF THE LORD BE WITH US, WHY THEN IS ALL THIS BEFALLEN US?”
As human beings, our belief is that if we have God as an all-powerful and loving Father, He’ll ALWAYS shield us from what we consider to be the negative circumstances of life. Suffering. Poverty. Sickness. Persecution. Hardship. Oppression. Death. Clearly, God has absolute power over all these. And our expectation is that He’ll ALWAYS deploy this power on our behalf. Against suffering. Against poverty. Against sickness. Against death. And so on.
This human expectation is what Martha expressed to Jesus as soon as she met Him after her brother, Lazarus, died. “Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21). Interestingly, when her sister, Mary, arrived a short while later, she said exactly those same words (verse 32).
“Lord, when you are with us, we believe that death cannot strike in our domain.” In effect, this is what Mary and Martha were saying to Jesus. But, in truth, Jesus was ‘with them’ when death took Lazarus! Yes, He was not there physically, but He was there 100% in Spirit! He was the One that broke the news of the death of Lazarus to His disciples (verse 14). So, He knew. He was there.
The meaning of this is clear. Even when God is 100% with us, bad things may happen to us. Bad things do happen to us.
In ALL cases, God permits bad things to happen to His people because He sees A GREATER GOOD that is beyond what we see. 1 Samuel 16:7 makes it clear that “… God does not see as man sees….” He sees beyond the surface, beyond the here and now. God will NEVER, EVER allow evil to happen to us – unless there’s A GREATER GOOD beyond the limited picture that we see as mortal men.
For example, in the case of Lazarus quoted above, the greater good had to do with God’s glory and His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus (John 11:4). For the death of Lazarus and the subsequent events marked a watershed in the journey of Jesus to the cross. Lazarus was a divine signpost in God’s eternal plan to save mankind. What a huge privilege!
But, because man does not understand the mysterious ways that God works, we cry when evil strikes. We moan. We complain. We doubt. We question. Some even turn back!
We do all these because, somehow, God’s promise that ALL THINGS WILL WORK TOGETHER FOR OUR GOOD does not seem to satisfy us (Romans 8:28). God’s admonition that we should GIVE THANKS IN ALL SITUATIONS does not seem to satisfy us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We struggle to believe God, and to see things from His eternal perspective.
Our carnal minds refuse to see the UNFAILING LOVE OF GOD behind the sinister shadows of life. Rather, we are so SELF-centred and SELF-absorbed that all we see are OUR circumstances! In our anguish, we ask: “WHERE IS GOD as this evil is unfolding?” The Bible answers – “… for he has said, “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). It is a promise.
Or, at times, like the disciples of Christ before Pentecost, we ask in despair, “God, do you not care…?” (Mark 4:38). The Bible answers – “… casting all your anxieties on him, BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU” (1 Peter 5:7). It is an assurance.
In fact, God demonstrated how much He cares for His people at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus wept with the people! Their grief was His grief. Their pain was His pain. He cared – because He loved them deeply. They were His people. But because He sees the GREATER GOOD that awaits behind the shadow of our pain and suffering, He permits life to take its course. Meanwhile, His love stays right with us in our dark nights and painful moments. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you….” (Isaiah 43:2)
Let’s look at our experience. Pain? Suffering? Poverty? Sickness? Bereavement? Embarrassment? Persecution? Tribulation? Are the floods of life threatening? Good! Good because God is there!!! Right there with us – according to His word. Perhaps even holding our hand as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
For EVERYTHING in this life is but a SHADOW. God is the ONLY REALITY. And He has solemnly promised NEVER to leave or forsake us.
Do we believe this?
This is the meaning of FAITH. This is what it means to TRUST God. To take Him at His word. And to understand that His abounding faithfulness will NEVER fail (Psalm 36:5).
Today, we have the opportunity to choose what moves us – the SHADOW of life, OR the REALITY of the faithfulness of God.
Please choose wisely. And laugh at the storms of life. Amen.
Thanks for reading, God bless you.
Source: Church Watch in Nigeria