Note: On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, a fire destroyed the building of the Gethsemane Baptist Church. This message was given as we gathered together in Pastor Hale’s home the following Sunday, December 15, 2013. It is presented here in a 2-part series to remind us of God’s Faithfulness.
Read: Job 38:1-7; Job 38:31-38; Job 40:1-14; Job 42:1-6
Two weeks ago I talked about the importance of “doctrine” and I explained that I see one of the most important purposes of teaching the Word of God is so that we as Christians “know what we believe and why we believe it.” Christianity is based in history – A specific man was put to death on a specific date by a specific group of people on a specific hill 2,000 years ago; and 3 days later that man, who was confirmed dead by everyone there, was alive. That’s the basis of our faith.
So when someone asks you why you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, I want you to be able to answer it. And when someone asks you why you think Christ rose from the dead, I want you to have an answer. And when you’re challenged to defend marriage as between one man and one woman, for life, I want you to be equipped to do that. And when you hear words like redemption, justification, reconciliation, propitiation, I want you to know what those mean and how they all fit together as part of our salvation.
And when we go through a week like we went through this week …
When something happens that doesn’t make any sense…
And we want to question God…
And we’re teetering on the very edge of breaking down…
And we’re questioning the future and possibly tempted to give up…
In those situations, I want us to know who our God is and why we can and should trust Him and how it’s possible to come through times like this more joyous and more satisfied in the provision of our Heavenly Father than we would have ever thought possible.
The Problem of Evil
While the church was still burning, the news media started asking a lot of questions. One reporter mentioned the verse on our sign, which hadn’t yet been changed from Thanksgiving, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.” He then turned it into a question: “This? This is the will of God???!!!”
What was he really asking? He was asking, “Why is there evil in the world?” — perhaps the hardest question for the Christian faith to answer to the satisfaction of the broader culture. Why is it hard to answer? Well, human logic goes something like this:
1) God is all-knowing and all-powerful. God is powerful enough to stop evil. …Right?
2) God is all-loving. God loves His creation enough to not want evil to happen to it. …Right?
YET) Evil does happen, every day, everywhere, all the time.
THUS a problematic conclusion: God must either be limited in His power or limited in His love.
Humanity wants an answer to that question: “Please make sense of this for me.”
Why is there evil in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people, to God’s people? How do we answer that question biblically? This idea of answering the question of evil might seem abstract, or too philosophical… Yet that was what the reporter had asked me. And it underlies the challenges we face as Christians when we go through difficult circumstances. So I want to look at practical answers to this question… What does God’s Word teach us about this idea of “evil”; and what does God expect of us as we encounter it in life?
What Not To Do
Before we look at what we ought to do, we need to reflect on what we ought NOT to do.
We read several passages from Job in which God was rebuking Job and his friends. What was the error of Job’s friends? Job’s friends showed up and thought they might comfort him and help him to alleviate his suffering by explaining why all the bad things were happening to Job. Humans are prideful. When tragedy strikes, we have a tendency to think we’re qualified to explain why it happened.
The secret things belong to God; but the things revealed belong to us and our children [Deuteronomy 29:29]. God reveals things to us through His Word. If God has chosen not to reveal something, that’s His prerogative – His ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts [Isaiah 55:8-9].
In John chapter 9, Jesus and His disciples pass by a man born blind. His disciples want to know why: what was the reason, who sinned to cause the man to be born blind? Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned or his parents but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” [John 9:1-5]
So what should we not do when in the midst of a trial? Don’t make the mistake of trying to peer into the mind of God and figure out God’s reason behind the tragedy.
So how should we think about these “calamities” that come our way in life? I’m convinced that God is interested in how we respond to Him when these kinds of life challenges come upon us. Will we walk through these times faithfully, trusting God, glorifying Him for His goodness to us even in times of trial?