In my walk of faith, I’ve always been asked this question by people who have felt ‘let down’ by God: “If God exists, why do bad things happen to good people?”
Psalm 73 is a classic lament of all those who love God but feel ‘let down’ by Him. But in verse 27 of the same Psalm, the psalmist admits, “Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you”. It took me a long time to realize that God first wants to secure our ETERNITY and IN HIS TIME makes all things beautiful!
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is such a masterpiece written by the wisest of men; King Solomon! – “ To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace”.
St. Paul tells the Thessalonians in his first letter to them, “ Rejoice always, Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”… and boy oh boy! Didn’t Paul and Silas practice what they preached in that prison in Acts 16:25?
Much in the same way, Victor Frankle (Holocaust survivor) had nothing to praise God for! He was in a concentration camp, beaten, brutalized, treated like an animal, awaiting his turn at the gas chambers. He saw his own people die around him. But yet, he survived the ordeal by maintaining his ‘joy’ in that very hopeless situation! He later wrote, “Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival. It was the only thing the SS could not take away from him!”
You may have heard the Cliche 'God's ways are not my ways'. It comes from Isaiah 55 verses 8 and 9 –‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’. In the book of Habakkuk, you will see how God answers the prophet’s prayer to correct Israel’s ways. He gets a heathen nation,Babylon, to defeat the Israelites and bring them to the very pit, such that the Israelites have to repent and cry out to their God for help. God, in His great mercy, later saves them from their enemies. Initially, the Israelites may have felt totally let down by their God but later, they realize that God had employed a ‘smaller’ evil to remove a ‘greater’ threat to His kingdom. This is very much like what Dr. Edward Jenner did when he developed the vaccine for smallpox. He innoculated people with cowpox and proved to medical science that the smaller infection made people immune to the deadlier smallpox!
Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’. God calls us to be people of faith. He has created the whole universe on the principle of ‘polarity/duality’. One cannot appreciate day without going through the night. One cannot measure joy without knowing suffering. God’s Word confirms this principle to us! But how willing are we in trusting God in his ‘plan’ for us?
The following story really opened my eyes to understand it all!
A man gets hopelessly lost in a snowstorm. He makes his way towards a light in the distance. As he approaches the house, he finds a frozen river that separates him from his safe haven. He treads very carefully on the ice. A step at a time. As he nears the middle of the river, he panics. Fearing that the ice could be thin out there, he gets down on his knees and crawls. Just then he hears hoof beats and the very next moment, to his utter disbelief, a heavily laden horse drawn carriage thunders past him!
The driver of the carriage could do that because he knew the bearing capacity of the ice and had done it several times year in, year out, day in, day out!
Like the driver, how well do we know our God, to trust him to carry us through our worldly strife into the eternal life that He has prepared for us?
And by the way, God, in His entire WORD, has never forsaken His own ... ah! but once ... His only beloved son Jesus! ( Remember ' Eloi! Eloi ! ....? )so that by His death, we, could be buried with Him and by His resurrection, could enjoy a triumphant(victorious) life on earth!