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“…the Resurrection and the Life”

By Watchman | April 2, 2009

 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.’ ” (John  11:25-26)

     An internet friend of mine passed away yesterday from cancer.  She was a believer in Christ, and knew to Whom she would be going when she died.  I know she was worried about her husband, who does not share her faith.  I’m pretty certain I know the question uppermost in his thoughts about God this morning:  Where was God when my wife was suffering?  If God loves her so much, why would she have to die doped up in an effort to alleviate excrutiating pain?  Why, why, why?  The answer to the first question is easy; the second, less so.  Ask fifteen pastors or ministers and you’ll probably get at least seventeen different answers.  Whole books have been written on the subject (Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, for one).  I’m not going to pretend that I have knowledge others do not–in this post I’d like to share my opinion regarding the “why” of the tragedies in our lives.

     Where is God when bad things happen to His children?  Well, that one is a no-brainer:

–“…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  Matthew 28:20

–“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

Where is God when people are hurting, dying, fearful?  Right where He always is!  By His children’s side, holding them in His loving arms, comforting their hearts.  God never forsakes us when we are in need of His presence.  He’s always present: ready to forgive, love and embrace us.

     The question of why God allows those who love Him to suffer is a much more difficult one.  I’ve heard several explanations:

There  is some sort of unresolved sin in a person’s life.  There is some truth to the assertion that unrepented-of sin or unresolved anger and unforgiveness can cause both physical and spiritual ills.  However, I am uncomfortable with this as a blanket explanation for why we suffer.  Although we cannot, because of our sin nature, be good enough by our own efforts to please God, the “Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the cross, so it is difficult for me to believe that He punishes us who love Him by deliberately inflicting pain and hardship on us.  Also, it does not explain the suffering that some really great men and women of faith have endured.  Think about it–all of Jesus’ apostles (except for John) and many of His disciples died unbelievably horrible, lengthy and cruel deaths, and we can hardly brand them as unrepentant sinners!  These were people that Jesus knew in His daily life and for whom He felt a great deal of love, yet they had inflicted upon them the ugliest and most ignominious deaths imaginable. 

Sometimes our faith has to be “tried in the fire.”  That too is true.  While God usually does not afflict us with illness and pain, He does allow us to suffer for a while with His mighty arm ready to catch us if we fall, knowing that enduring a certain amount of “fire” makes us stronger and “tempers” us into a more effective people. 

Here’s what I really think the answer is, though:  IT HAPPENS.  Who knows why?  Is it our sin nature that brings it on, or a last ditch effort by the enemy to pull us away from God?  In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 Paul tells us that “now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.”  We can list possibly a hundred theories as to why God allows His people to suffer, but the truth is we won’t know until we see Him face to face.  

     There’s another question I think we need to address as well:  Does the “why” really matter?  Obviously, if the aim is to affix blame for a tragedy, then I suppose so.  If we are looking to find God in the midst of the storm, then I’m not certain that it does.  Asking why bad things happen is like asking why the sky is blue–there are just some things that are.  If we have looked into our hearts and not found a reason why we should be undergoing a particular trial, the likelihood is that it did not originate from God but from the nature of the world.  More than anything, however, it is necessary to remember that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psa. 30:5)  If we love the Lord, how short and unimportant that time of pain and anguish will seem when we come into His presence as He has promised we will do!  An e-mail friend of mine sent me the following story:

A man received a diagnosis of cancer with a great deal of fear.  He asked his doctor, whom he knew to be a Christian, what he could tell him about heaven and what happens after we die.  The doctor shook his head, and said since he’d never died, he couldn’t say for certain what heaven was going to be like.  His patient sighed and said, “Then how can you not be afraid of dying?”

Just then, there was a slight scratching on the door.  The doctor looked at the door for a moment, then opened it.  A little dog ran into the room and jumped into the doctor’s arms.

“I have never allowed my dog into my office before,” he told his patient.  “But look how he runs in here so happily  even though he didn’t know what was in here, because he heard his master’s voice on the other side of the door!”

     Am I afraid of the process of dying?  As much as anyone else, I expect.  I tend to be very childish and intolerant of pain!  I have seen some deaths that seemed to come easily, and I’ve seen one that came very hard and with a great deal of anguish.

    Am I afraid of dying?  Never!  For I hear my Master’s voice on the other side of the door, and I can’t wait to be in His presence!

Topics: Kingdom Living | 1 Comment »

One Response to ““…the Resurrection and the Life””

  1. S. A. H. Says:
    April 5th, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Our physical bodies wear out. We become ill. This was not the original plan for man, was it? Some of us have illnessess that can last for years, until death (with pain). Do I curse God, who holds my life in His hands, or do I praise Him in ALL circumstances? His ways are not my ways, nor His thoughts my thoughts. My life and times are in His hands. I can become “bitter or better”. I can use this experience to encourage others or I can discourage others by complaining and asking “Why me?” I refuse to blame God. Instead…I will praise Him at all times.

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