Saturday, September 3, 2016
God is Still Good
I took this photo at the large indoor cemetery near the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. The marble sarcophagus shows one figure mourning the death of a loved one, while the other figure is perhaps seeking comfort from God. Both are pictures of sorrow.
A friend was recently asked why he wasn’t angry with God as his beautiful, young wife lay dying of cancer. His answer: “Honestly, it never occurred to me to be angry at him. Why would I lash out in anger toward the only thing that brings me solace? That’d be akin to punching the lifeguard who’s trying to save me from drowning. I must cling to Christ, desperately, determinedly, gratefully, for strength to see myself through every moment, both good and hurtful, both joyful and sorrowful. And so that’s what I do. I’ve found Jesus to be more than sufficient. He is a man of sorrows who knows how to share mine, and who tells me gently, in ways that I can believe, that in the end, everything is going to be ok. God is good; he is always good.”
Even while we are trusting God to comfort us when tragedy and sorrow strike, we still often ask, “Why? Why is this happening in my/our lives?”
The answer is as old as time. We live in a sinful world where bad things happen -- even to good people, and God’s children endure heartache and pain just as often as those who do not believe. In this world we live in, God doesn’t wave a magic wand over the lives of His children and say, “No more problems for you.”
We can’t expect to walk through life never stubbing a toe or having a sore throat, with a dust-free home and no car repairs, never suffering with a mosquito bite or hurt feelings (and that’s just some of the small stuff!). Not only are we not guaranteed a carefree life, we are actually guaranteed that live will NOT be carefree.
Jesus spoke of that assurance in John 16:33: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
You can count on issues ranging from that stubbed toe and dusty house, all the way up the scale to the possibility of cancer and heart disease, and a home being gobbled up by an earthquake or forest fire.
I’m not saying we need to live in fear of the ax falling, but we do need to be aware of the reality of life on this planet. Just as my friend does not blame God for the pain and sorrow of his wife’s condition, we can’t call out “foul” to God when He allows tragedy to strike.
We might say, “Oh, but He could have prevented this horrible thing from happening!” And, yes, He could certainly prevent it, but He allows these things to plague mankind because He gives His creation free will. That free will resulted in sin being introduced into the Garden of Eden, and we’ve been hemmed about with its awful consequence ever since.
While free will brought devastation in the form of sin into our world, free will also allows us to choose to follow God, in spite of the pull of the dark side. When we choose to believe and follow God Almighty, a wonderful thing happens. Even though we’re still living in this sinful world and enduring its sometimes painful environment, our spirits are bound up in the perfect love of Jesus in a way that frees us from the ultimate consequences of those sins.
Someday, we’ll live in a sin-free place called Heaven, with the God who gave us free will to love Him and delights in our choice. In that perfect place, there will be no more stubbed toes, cancer, or death. At long last, we’ll enjoy the peace, joy and nearness with God that He intended for us in the first place.