(this edition for mature audiences only)
This happens at some point in the life of every church and every family; you’ve seen it too many times. A loved one passes away, a family or church member rails against the Almighty. Someone’s home succumbs to a fire; a bystander judges the family as out of the will of God, and deserving of this punishment. A favorite sports team gets robbed of a victory (think New Orleans Saints last season in the playoffs; but I’m not bitter or anything) and we curse God for abandoning us. It ranges from life/death issues to pure pettiness; we are quick to saddle God with all the blame for ‘x’ dreadful occurrence.
If you are a saved, born again follower of Christ, His death and resurrection gave you eternal life—praise the Lord. But as I read the Word He never grants us invincibility, immunity, or isolation from the woes of this world until we reach a resurrected state with Him in heaven.
As I write I am being treated for Lyme disease, something I apparently contracted leading a DR team last January in Florida. I’m doing the Lord’s work and I get bit by some random critter that has me short of breath, stamina, strength, and perhaps done some damage to my heart we hope is temporary. Within our associational church leadership we have men getting shots in their eyes for macular degeneration and other diseases, recovering from heart attacks, double transplant survivors, cancer, etc. Does it mean we are out of the will of God? That we should be yelling at our Lord for “allowing” this to happen to us?
Philippians 4.13 is often misinterpreted. Depending on the translation, it says ‘I can do all things in/through Christ.’ An infant faith wants to do miracles, leap tall buildings, or show how tough or strong I can be- - - oh, through Christ, of course. Folks, read it in context. Paul is in prison, he’s just said he is content in whatever circumstance he finds himself (v.11) and in the very next verse asks his readers to share in his affliction (v. 14). I think some modern translations capture the true essence of this verse as “I can endure all things through Christ.” David didn’t write in Ps. 23 about a detour around the valley of the shadow of death; he said God was with us through that dark place. Job, when his wife (delightful spouse she) encourages him to curse God and die, replies, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job2.10) Solomon writes in Eccl. 7.14, “In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider- -God has made the one as well as the other” and Jeremiah as the probable author pens in Lamentations 3.38 “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and evil come forth?” These verses don’t fit in some people’s theology, but a mature believer learns to grapple with the whole Word of God, not just our favorite promises. I will not praise God for my Lyme, nor Jana’s lupus or lymphoma, nor the mass killings at places of worship, nor ‘x’ catastrophe. I will praise Him IN the midst of that circumstance (1 Thess. 5.18). I belong to God (1 Cor. 6.20) and am to glorify His name, period. When it feels good and also when I feel like selling the whole world for five minutes of relief or peace.
These are hard verses to read, harder to believe, and even harder to live. A mature faith goes beyond complaining about when is my next feeding/reward/promotion to serving a Master who rarely, if ever, consults us about how our lives should turn out. We worship a sovereign Majesty who has shown for all eternity His love in Jesus Christ.
If He never “does another thing” for us, will we still serve Him?