You may have asked this very question this week with what is going on in your own life, because it is a natural question to ask when things go wrong. Recently, we had some issues with our house that will need to be repaired, of course I didn't want them to happen as I know they will be costly. I know friends who are facing health issues with their children, Christians with cancer, families in financial crisis. There is no end to the challenges we could think of in our lives and those around us.
Yet, still the question lingers... why do these things happen, especially to Christians? While the answer could quickly become a book, I want to share part of the answer that has been helpful, although I've found it hard to swallow and yet at the same time comforting and even encouraging.
This part of the answer is found in just a couple of verses in the Bible, Romans chapter 8, verses 28-29 "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren"
There is a lot of theology packed into these verses but to answer the question about why things go wrong, I hold onto the promise that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God." This seems like a shocking statement, because if we truly stop and realize that God is the cause for everything to work for good, it seems impossible to accept this when so much goes wrong.
However, before giving up on this promise, it's important to understand a couple other comments the Bible makes about this promise. First, the good that comes from everything is only promised for those who love God, meaning true Christians (v. 28); and second, God's overarching plan is for these believers to become more like Jesus (v. 29).
If we put this into a summary sentence it would state that 'God causes everything that happens to believers to be good, because they will become more like Jesus.' Therefore, no matter what goes wrong or what evil we experience, God will use those situations to refine us, to change our hearts and attitudes so we become like Christ, give Him greater glory and be a better witness for Christ in this world.
God does not cause evil, actually He abhors evil and will bring all evil and injustice into judgement. He also does not enjoy seeing His children suffer, yet He is so powerful and all knowing that in every situation in our lives He will do what is best for us, so that we become like His Son. When we face hard times, it may not be easy to feel like God cares for us or is in control, but these two verses are true because they are from God's Word and we should cling to these promises to find encouragement and comfort during trials.
Still this may not mean the suffering will stop, but with a renewed perspective of becoming more like Jesus and thus growing closer to Him, there is hope and even purpose in suffering. After all, it is for God's glory that we have been created (Isaiah Chapter 43, verse 7) not our own personal success or well-being and what greater glory will God receive than if we become like Christ?
Without trials would you trust God? Without trials do you know if your faith is genuine? I think of the story of Job as a great example for how to respond to suffering. The story of Job is recorded in the Bible and describes a man who loved God but was given everything he needed and wanted. However, with God's permission, Satan destroyed everything he had, killed all his children and gave him an incredibly painful disease. All this was a test of his faith and with remarkable love Job exclaimed in Job chapter 1 verse 21, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."
As much as I would love to say I would respond like Job, I'm not sure I would because of how I sometimes respond to even small inconveniences. Yet, what an incredible promise we can receive from God, knowing that God will use everything to cause us to become more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
If, however, you don't know Jesus, this promise is not yours and the suffering you experience now will only be a small sample of the everlasting torment and pain to come at the time of judgement. I don't want to scare you, but instead call you to this wonderful Savior so you will know this promise. This Savior is Jesus Christ, He lived a perfect life (even though He experienced incredible pain) and chose to die on the cross to take away the sin of believers. Because He was perfect and died, He is able to take away the punishment everyone deserves and transfer His perfect obedience to God's law to those who would turn from their sin and trust in Him.
What a great God we serve! A God who is so loving He saved us by sending His Son; who has promised us eternal life in His presence, without sin and pain; who is in control of every situation so that we would become more like Jesus; and has given us His Word to provide comfort and encouragement in times of need!
Courtesy of Press Service International