It’s Not Helpful!

I’ve been having a rather lengthy  Facebook conversation with some former students of mine, including one of my sons.  I guess it’s not surprising that it has taken  the form of a blog post in my head, so here it is.

Believers, Christians, often experience awful, horrible, heartbreaking events. Babies die, husbands or wives leave, life-threatening illnesses occur,  violent crime takes away our feelings of safety, value, and belief in God Himself. Severe persecution in some parts of the world  threatens believers every single day, and there is no escape from it.

These hurting people often cry out, “Why?  Why are these things happening?  Where is God?  Why is He allowing this?”  Some will get answers from well-meaning people, but those answers only serve to increase their sense of helplessness and abandonment.

One of those answers, which has become ubiquitous  lately, is,”Well, everything happens for a reason.”  And that is supposed to heal the wounds, soothe the heartache, and remove the grief.

It’s a vague, formless answer that carries very little power to help. In fact, it can create even more hurt because the suffering ones can’t find that elusive reason, and they just don’t understand. It has a sort of  New Age kharmic feel about it, because it is non-specific and indicates a vague faith in. . . . well, I’m really not sure. No person, no god, no ultimate arbiter of life events is mentioned.  Just that somewhere out there sits something or someone who orchestrates terrible events in our lives for some non-specified reason.

It makes no sense to me.

So, why DO bad things happen?

For me, the answer is both simple and complex.  My worldview is biblical.  I believe that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is holy, just, and sovereign; He is loving, merciful, and gracious. He cannot look on evil, so He provided the only possible perfect sacrifice to cleanse sin in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit of God, born of a pure, virgin girl who was in the line of King David.  Jesus was the One Whose blood could cleanse sin, and Whose resurrection could provide victory over sin and death. You can read all about Him in the four gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Why did God do all that?  So that we could find salvation and spend eternity with Him, because He loves us.  All of us.

Why doesn’t He, then, protect us from terrible events?

Because it’s not His job to do so. He never said He would.  What He did promise is that He would walk through the valley of the shadow of death with us (Psalm 23).  He promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb, 13:5). He promised to be with us to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:20).He never promised to prevent harm; He did promise to help us endure it.

Bad things happen because we live in a sinful, fallen world (Genesis 1-3). Satan is real. Evil is real. Jesus said that the rain will fall on the just and the unjust ( Matt: 5:45).

To accuse God of bringing evil into our lives is to believe the exact opposite of His true character. To demand that God should have prevented whatever happened is to demand that He conform to our wishes.

The Apostle Paul suffered greatly for his faith. Near the end of his life, knowing he was facing a painful and horrifying death, he said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).  He did not complain about all the beatings, the stoning, the shipwreck, the snakebite, the imprisonment.  He accepted it as the price for his preaching the gospel wherever God sent him, and he rejoiced always because he knew God was always with him (Phil 4:4-5).

I know this is longer than my normal posts.  Just one more thing, and I’m done.

Instead of asking “Why,” we would do much better to ask for the what and the how. 

What can I learn from what has happened?  How can I begin to heal, or if necessary, to forgive, and move on from here? How can I use this to learn and grow, and to help someone else who is hurting?  How can I be a channel of blessing, showing the love of God to those around me in spite of the trouble that has beset me?

After all, no one suffered more unjustly than Jesus did.  He was the perfect Man, Who never sinned. Yet God allowed Him “to become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

Please don’t accuse and blame God for the work of Satan.  Put the blame squarely where it belongs.  Satan’s whole purpose is to destroy all that God loves.  Evil does exist, and it finds all of us to one degree or another.  No one is immune.  God’s job is NOT to prevent all believers from ever suffering harm and evil. It is not His fault that we suffer.

“Everything happens for a reason”  is not helpful. It just makes the sufferer feel more confused, and removes permission for that person to grieve. Instead of saying that, tell the person how sorry your are for his pain, and find some way to be helpful, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.



Thinking Biblically

I was going to title this post Heartburn,  but I think I’ve already used that.  And this title is probably more to the point, anyway.

This is not a new concept. When I went looking for an illustration, they were abundant. Hundreds of other people have written recently on this topic.

And yet–look at the incredible election cycle we’re enduring, just for starters. Neither of the candidates thinks biblically, and that’s all we need to know about why we’re in this mess.

However, this post is not intended to be political; it is intended to be very personal, as if you and I were sitting together, perhaps in my counseling office.  I can’t hear all of the pain and problems you’re dealing with, but I can tell you this:  The answer lies in learning to think biblically about your situation.

 You can get some good advice from people who aren’t particularly biblical thinkers.  We go to unsaved doctors and dentists and so on all the time and follow the directions they offer us. But when it comes to matters of principle, matters of relationships, matters of walking wisely in this worn out old world, then you need to go to God’s Word.

Thing is, we can’t think biblically if we’re not reading the Bible; if we’re not studying, not under good biblical preaching, not learning and growing in the Word.

It is that with which we are filled that controls our thoughts, behaviors, words and emotions. If we are filled with lust, then that’s what will be evident in our lives.  If we are filled with hatred, anger, bitterness, envy, self—then that’s what will be manifest in our lives, no matter how hard we try to cover it all over with a gloss of spirituality.

We live in a world that bombards us with lust. Advertisements, billboards, prime time TV, so-called music that is full of anger, violence, and lust; all these things are tempting us at every turn.  I’ve had more than one man in my office tell me that it’s really hard for a normal man to maintain a pure mind these days.  Actually, I think that’s always been the case; I think it’s just getting worse as we move farther away from biblical concepts of thought, behavior, appearance, and language.

Yes, I have heartburn.  I have deep concerns for young men entering a world that tells them pornography is just fine; that the objectification of a woman’s body is no big deal; that masturbating to porn is normal and healthy because, you know, a man has needs.

I am even more amazed that (usually, not always) younger women are becoming more involved in watching porn, finding it exciting, stimulating, fun.  They see no problem with it, and think I’m just too old-school to understand.

No, I’m not.  I do understand.  I also understand that rattlesnakes will kill  you if you play with them. I avoid what I know can cause me terrible harm.

The problem with porn is that it’s a fake relationship that requires nothing of the watcher; at the same time, it creates a lack of interest in the watcher’s spouse, because sexual needs are being met while watching porn.

You may think it’s spicing up your sex life. In actuality, it’s slowly poisoning your mind and emotions, and you will pay the penalty in a broken marriage or a broken life. It’s evil. It is not biblical, it does not come from God.

Keep in mind that the first thing Adam and Eve noticed after they sinned was NOT that they had disobeyed the God of Creation; it was NOT that the fruit left a bitter aftertaste. No, it was that they were naked. The very first thing the scaly finger of Satan corrupted after the Fall was human sexuality, and we’ve been having trouble with it ever since.

I could go on at length here, but I have neither the time nor the energy at the moment. Maybe there will be more along this line on this blog on Fridays, I don’t know.

What I know is that it’s time Bible-believing Christians stop participating in what the world tells us is okay.  It’s time we acknowledge to fellow believers that we’re dealing with sin in our lives, and to ask them for prayer and accountability. The Bible tells us to confess our sins to each other (James 5:16). That doesn’t mean we go into gross detail. It means we admit that we’re tempted, have fallen to something sinful, that we need the prayer support of our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s all.  It’s time that our prayer requests not be just a list of physical problems. Nothing wrong with holding each other up in prayer for health issues, but really, is that all we have to pray about?

Philippians 2:5.  Colossians 3:16. Galations 5:16.  Just for starters.

Valentine’s Day

Music has always expressed my thoughts and feelings.  It’s no different today as I think of the greatest Lover of all time, the One Whose love was so deep and strong that He allowed Himself to be nailed to an old rugged cross in our behalf.  I’m not going to preach today, or even say a whole lot more.  I’m going to share a beautiful old song with you that expresses it far better than I ever could.