A rabbi wrote a book entitled “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” which became a widely acclaimed and best-selling book in the 1980s. In this book, he tried to make sense out of a tragedy in his own family. He concluded that “God wants the righteous to live peaceful, happy lives but sometimes even He can’t bring that about. It is too difficult even for God to keep cruelty and chaos from claiming their innocent victims.”
The writer, of course, was not alone in his denial of sovereign control of God over the events of our lives. In fact, many Christians as well as non-Christians frequently speak of misfortune and accidents, of circumstances beyond our control as things that just happen by chance, bad luck or fate. Down through the centuries, sickness, suffering, and sorrow have always raised questions and doubts about God. Many often come to the flawed conclusion: “If God is both powerful and good, why is there so much suffering, so much pain and heartache in the world? Thus God is either good but not all powerful or He is powerful but not all good.”
But we who are of the faith should never have to come to such a conclusion. Let it be known that God is perfect in love and that He cares for you, and He has a purpose in His will for you. When we face difficulties in life, we often murmur and complain. We fire questions to God. We ask God why He acted in the way He did or why He did not act when He should. We think and act in a manner as if we are wiser than God. The Scripture asks us this question, “38Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? 39Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” (Lam. 3:38-39). Some people find this part of Scripture stumbling. How could ‘evil’ be permitted by God? Isn’t He a good God? Then, how could a good God allow evil to happen in the lives of the righteous?
But brethren, ponder for a moment. Do you realize that many times we enjoy ‘good’ things at the expense of others? When we get our promotion, it simply means that someone has lost it. Isn’t this true? To help us understand this topic clearer, let us consider the ultimate blessing of God – the gift of eternal life. We thank God for the gift of eternal life. We thank God for not giving us what we deserve, which is the punishment for our sins in hell. We thank God for giving us what we do not deserve, that is to be with Him forever in heaven. We thank God for Jesus Christ who has cleansed us from our sins. Yes, as redeemed people of the Lord, we are truly thankful to God for this great and precious gift of salvation.
But have you ever considered the fact that a good thing such as eternal life could only come at the sake of the ‘evil’ which befell another? In order for us to be saved, the Lord Jesus Christ had to die. His death on the cross – an unnatural and horrendous death, at the prime of His life – would have been termed as an ‘evil’ befalling Him. If you were living during the time of Christ, would you, like Peter, try to prevent Christ from going to cross to lay down his life because you love Him and want Him to be with you? If you were to see the whole issue from a localized perspective, you could have asked God the same question, “God, why did You allow Jesus to suffer the death of the cross?”
But did Jesus complain to God, “God, why me? Why do I need to die on the cross? Why this wicked and evil form of punishment has to be imposed upon me?” Jesus never questioned God. Instead, Jesus willingly went to the cross to lay down His life. He said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus was wholly determined to walk in the will of God, regardless of how difficult it may have been. His humanity prompted Him to pray and to yield His will completely to conform to the will of the Father: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). Let us learn from the example of Jesus. Why did not Jesus complain when evil befell Him? Why was He able to accept the will of God? The answer lies in the fact that He trusted God. He knew God’s perfect love for His people.
My friends, God loves us with a perfect love. God demonstrated His love towards us by offering His only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. God’s love for us is pure and perfect. Salvation is not free. It comes with a heavy price tag – the precious blood of the only-begotten Son of God. Because of the sacrificial act of Jesus, salvation is made free unto us. We have been redeemed with a great ransom paid in full by the Son of God. Such is the love of God for us!
Now if God loves us so much by not even sparing His Son, we can be assured that God will care for us. Would God stop loving us after saving us? It makes no sense that God would redeem us with a great ransom and after that, to cast us aside. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). God’s love for His people will prompt Him to give what is best unto His people. Such must be your conclusion based on the Word of God.
My friends, there are times when we will be faced with difficulties in life. At such moments, we could hardly be able to comprehend fully the will of God. We would not be able to see the hand of God working in our lives. What would you do? Despair? Disappointed? No! Instead, return to the foundation of the relationship between you and God – anchor your faith in the love of God for you. Have this assurance that no matter what is happening in your life, God has loved you and God still loves you. Put your trust in God. No matter how you would want the things to go your way, yield yourself completely to the will of God. Pray like our Lord Jesus, ‘Not as I will, but as Thou will!” Then, you will find peace even amidst the storms. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer. 29:11).
Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Passion Week. As we enter into the holy week, let us remember the sufferings our Lord Jesus had to endure on behalf of us – how He suffered humiliation, torture and shame at the death of the cross. As you cast your eyes upon the cross, may you be reminded that it is the love of God which drew our Lord Jesus to the cross. It is the love of God for us that we are redeemed and given eternal life. God has indeed loved us with an everlasting love. He continues to love and care for us. Nothing in this world “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). Trust God when circumstances in life make us unable to comprehend the working of God. When trusting become too difficult, yield yourself wholly to the will of God even as our Lord Jesus Christ. Look to the cross. God loves you.