I must first apologize for being absent the past couple of weeks. We had a hurricane, I’ve had health issues and this week dealing with the death of an incredible young student at my children’s school.. one of the reasons for today’s blog.
It is a question asked by so many people and the answer is usually one that is not good enough… the question is WHY?
Why did this happen? Why is my life like this? If #GodsGotThis so much then WHY could a God of love allow something like this to happen.
All great questions and the answer is probably not one that you want to hear. I have some why questions in my life too. I didn’t ask for cancer in my life and I’m not perfect, that’s for sure, but I’m a pretty good guy… Why do I get something like cancer?
Death is probably the leading cause of the question Why. Death in most cases doesn’t come by appointment and in most cases again.. is never on time.
The anguish, crushed emotions and the feeling of death that comes along with situations and circumstances that create the space to ask the WHY question are many times so overwhelming, so powerful and so draining it can end someone else life.. It can end either physically or mentally.
I even know of some good Christian people who have walked away from the faith over a why question.
There is no GOOD answer when you deal with a crazy, unexplainable death and the answer.. “Well, we’ll find out when we get there” typically isn’t a good answer either.
I do believe, that even though circumstances can be horrific to us, there is always a bigger picture and yes, always a reason. God doesn’t just kill to kill like that and he doesn’t just “kill” someone to teach us a lesson anymore than he just “gave” me cancer to teach me a lesson. Now, he will use the circumstance to teach, especially if we are open to it.
I tend to believe that we as humans are selfish by nature. We want what we want and it is a life long discipline to learn how to put others before ourselves. There is no doubt an evil force in this world at work. We have an adversary named Satan. Although he is a diabolical agent of evil, he isn’t strong enough or big enough to be every evil.
That’s a big statement there for sure, I know. The reality is, we are pretty good at being evil ourselves and there may be things we consider to be evil that aren’t evil at all.
For example…I tell my kids to make their beds and clean their rooms all the time. They hate that and even consider that my request is too much and at times they may even consider it to be an “evil” request.
So, I’m sure you can fill in the blank with things that we could consider evil all on your own and save me hours on this podcast in examples.
The next point is that I would say evil is necessary in the aspect of understanding the value of good. Again.. no clean your room, now your grounded or you lose something and to the child, I am now an agent of evil, doing an evil thing. The flip side of that coin is that they can learn the value of doing their chores and live into the the “Good Life”!!
Good becomes even more valuable. Not because I want to teach a lesson, because it is always a consequence of no good. It is not the opposite of, but a consequence of (the so-called evil).
Okay…. All of that does not say that someone dying is a consequence of someone not being good. Quite the contrary. It is an opportunity, in what is or can be perceived as an evil to experience something very good.
A professor at Oxford has a great point about that:
Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne puts this in perspective:
If God is to allow us to acquire knowledge by learning from experience and above all to allow us to choose whether to acquire knowledge at all or even to allow us to have a very well-justified knowledge of the consequences of our actions—knowledge which we need if we are to have a free and efficacious choice between good and bad—he needs to provide natural evils occurring in regular ways in consequence of natural proce
So, when it comes to suffering and specifically children… Are we saying that for God to be good, he has to perform miracles constantly around the world with every child to be safe from anything.. no matter what? So then, two kids are playing at the dinner table and little Johnny grabs the steak knife playing like in a cartoon and as he plunges the knife into his brother Steve’s side.. God then miraculously turns the knife into rubber and the whole family laughs because God will always do a miracle and protect little children. If we lived in such a world, children wouldn’t learn morality because many of their choices would lack moral consequences. Okay, then at what age does that cut off. If God is that good..why then does that miracle even stop?? Now, I suspect the more serious answer will be that God should every day orchestrate tens of thousands of amazing miracles to protect children. But if God constantly worked through providences, then God would still have to interfere constantly with free will. For example, how does God prevent parents from getting drunk, or texting, or nodding off, while driving? How does God providentially keep all children everywhere at all times from the fatal occurrences that might afflict other family members? How would God providentially keep all children from being harmed by the intentional cruelty of adults? He couldn’t do all these things unless He was to make Himself unmistakably apparent. After all, even the most ignorantly spiritual person would conclude, sooner or later, that there’s something about the universe that prevents children from coming to harm. In the real world, parents and their children must learn to be responsible because natural laws do work in regular ways.
And suffering has other benefits.
Many important spiritual lessons can be learned from the suffering and/or death of children—Things like: courage, patience, compassion, selflessness, humility, and so on—but I’m going to focus on what today is the biggest issue in this podcast. The death of children, whether other people’s children or our own, we learn that we can never base our ultimate happiness on this world. We have The American Dream—that we can have our kids grow up, graduate, achieve successful careers, marry great spouses, and have wonderful children, and through our children, and our children’s children, we can gain a sense of immortality an incredible legacy—That is forever in danger. There is nothing worldly that we can count on, including what most people love most: their children. Instead, we must look to God for our ultimate and eternal fulfillment.
Only worshippers of God can accept this. We shouldn’t expect those who only live for this life not to bitterly complain that God is unfair for threatening what to them is the top priority and value in life.
Suffering can be valuable for children, too. In my ministry, I experience many times an illness that affects a child. It is at that time we can best understand our own mortality and the value in life. I have even faced this with my family dealing with my disease of cancer in my body. I thank God for being aware of my own mortality and the value we have on each other and family as a result. What a shame to be unaware of that value and benefit in life. To be numb to good and evil both. That is ultimately the worst evil at all.
So, the question why to me takes on a different meaning. I don’t think the question why is a question that can ever be answered. I don’t even think that why is an appropriate question. The question best asked is HOW?
How could this happen? That can be answered. It could have been a freakishly awful health issue, a horrible accident, a mishap of someone else’s careless actions… so many answers can fill in the blanks.
God is the one who allows us the opportunity and the blessing of mortality to understand the value of life and free will to be able to live it by the choices we choose. The benefit is to look to live a life the way God describes and when a bad thing happens, we then know how to be the hands and feet of God to a person who is suffering.
We offer love, we sit in silence, we hug, we prepare meals, we help with housework, we help pack boxes and so on. We love each other and love each other through some horrific situations that eventually can be things God can use in your life or the life of someone else to share that incredible value of life and love and freedom.
Freedom always comes with a price. For me as a Christian, it came with the price of Christ dying on the cross. For me as an American, it came and comes daily by the sacrifices and lives of those serving our country. The freedom I experience in my community from the protection of law enforcement, fire officials, first responders and so on. They pay a price for me to enjoy my freedom. Someone always pays, the reality is that it just sucks when it is you.
It’s not fair to pick and choose. I wouldn’t want someone else to have my cancer instead of me, that is just pure selfish and evil in itself, I deal with it and believe God for my healing. I’m not in a pick and choose situation.. I can’t do anything about it.. well, that’s not all actually true.
I can live. I can enjoy life while I have it. I can help others experience hope and peace through the experiences I have had to get to a place that I can in my suffering. And then there are just times we suffer together and get through it.
I started today by saying you probably wouldn’t like the answer, and you still may not and still may think it’s not good enough. Well, then, what is good enough? How is that good enough a fair answer in life for everyone?
God loves us regardless. Now some people say “As long as we trust God, everything will be okay.” However, the Bible is quite clear that God will walk with us through life’s problems, and that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5). But he never promises a life free from pain or suffering. Throughout the Bible, the people who trusted God most were also the people who suffered the most. Look at Job or the Apostle Paul. They each suffered greatly. But they held on to their faith because they understood something important: God's ways are different from our ways. What seems best to us is not always what’s best to God.
When my mother-in-law was dying of cancer, I couldn’t say “Praise the Lord! My mom is going to be with God!" I prayed for her healing and hoped God would keep her around for a whole lot longer. Yet, when she died, I was faced with the truth that she is happier today in heaven than she would have been on earth. If I really wanted the best for her, then I needed to trust that God's way was the best, even though it wasn't the best for me.
I know that doesn’t take away your pain for your situation but I hope it’s comforting to know God may not always take away our suffering, but he will always walk beside us, leading us toward the best future possible—an eternal life with him.
I hope today spoke to your heart and that you remember how valuable life is. There is hope, even when you may doubt, there is hope. One last thing before we go today I want to share a great scripture with you from the Bible and remember as Paul said to us from God’s heart in Philippians 4:6-9
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
And that He surely will my friends. The choice is yours. I don’t think, I know you’re valuable to God and others we’ve talked about it and there is page after page of it in the Bible for you to read! That being said…. Have faith, know you’re loved…..Don’t give in, don’t give up and never forget