The Question We All Ask
It’s a question as old as faith itself: “How can a loving God, who is all good... and all powerful... allow bad things to happen to good people?”
Of course, we usually condense this question down to just three letters... which are no less dramatic: W.H.Y. “Why?” It’s the question we all ask, isn’t it? “Why?”
It’s the very same question, pondered by Job... as in the Old Testament story of Job.
Despite Job’s trust in God, and his faithfulness, his life was in shambles! It was a mess! Job had lost his family... and his wealth... and his health. Why had all these bad things happened to him?
His friends tried to convince Job that he had sinned against God. But Job was unaware of any great sin in his life; He knew that he’d done nothing at all to incur the wrath of God (and he wouldn’t be convinced otherwise)... in fact, Job was a man of faith. He trusted God and worshiped God faithfully.
Why would God allow such things to happen to someone who’s so faithful? Job believed God was all powerful and good... but Job also felt abandoned. He prayed, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer” (Job 30:20).
Where was God? God didn’t answer Job’s question; instead - “speaking to Job out of the storm” - He scolded Job for even questioning the wisdom of God in the first place.
And that old question remains... Why do bad things happen to those who try to live their lives in faith?
Of course we rationalize sometimes (or theorize) that maybe that’s the way things were in the Old Testament... you know, before Jesus! Thru the prophets God promised a Messiah who would come and make all things new. Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah (and all the others) prophesied in one-way-or-another that evil and injustice would be destroyed, that righteousness would triumph and the goodness of God would reign in the Kingdom of God for all to see, and know, and experience.
And as Christians... we believe the Messiah did come in the person of Jesus Christ. We believe that through the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the kingdom of God has in fact been established.
Yet, evil still happens - storms still come - and the scoffers still scoff at people of faith - and in their hearts people of faith still question. It’s not enough to talk about (or sing about) “some glad morning when this life is over” all things will be made new. What about now... in this life?
Well, part of the answer’s found in what Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation...” (2 Cor. 5:17-19)
Could it be that our calling as disciples of Christ... our ministry and message of reconciliation... of bringing opposing sides together... includes... somehow, someway... acknowledging the brokenness of this life... and the perfection of the Kingdom of God?
Could it be that the new creation is something that begins on the inside of each of us... and it’s our job - in cooperation with the Spirit of Christ - to make that new creation a reality... both in our lives, and in the world?
Even those closest to Jesus struggled with the same doubts that Job experienced. Jesus was in the boat with his disciples... he was in their presence... and yet, as the storm raged they doubted the power of God working through Christ. In fact, they criticized Jesus, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus, don’t you care? (Mark 4:38)
How different are we from those first disciples? Was Jesus any closer to them in that boat, than he is to us right now... thru the power and presence of the Holy Spirit? When we face problems or tragedy - storms in our lives - do we doubt the power of God working through Jesus? Do we scold Jesus for not caring about our situation?
Jesus spoke... and the storm obeyed. The wind and waves became calm. The power of God - then and now - continues to work through Christ, to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
Of course, then, Jesus turned the table: and questioned his disciples’ faith, “Have you still no faith?”
Maybe the problem wasn’t so much a lack of faith... as it was the kind of faith the disciples had. Did the power of their faith lie more in their expectations (their ideas about what they though Jesus should do) than it did in the presence of Jesus (and the fact Jesus was right there, the whole time - he was in the storm with his disciples!)?
The fact is, we will never know the answer to all the “whys” in this life. But the storms of this life certainly give us the opportunity to hear God... to seek God... and to rely on God... in ways that easy sailing does not!
We’ll have to wait - in faith - for that grander reality of God’s Kingdom... when Christ comes, not as a baby... but as the King of kings, and Lord of lord. And until then, we’re called to bridge the gap... to share the love of Christ and the Good News of redemption, with everyone... until perfection comes.
That’s why we faithfully pray, as Jesus taught us, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Until then, tragedy and crises will still arise. Storms still rage for you and me, just like they raged for the disciples so long ago.
And Jesus will continue to calm the storms of life...
Oh, and one more thing: When Jesus calmed the storm, he never promised his disciples another storm wasn’t just over the horizon. He promised, he would always be with them... through the storms of life.
And that’s what Jesus promises us, too. He never promised that if we believe in him, no evil, no heartache, no grief, no tragedy will occur in our lives.
He promised us that he’ll forever, and always, be with us. If the power of God working through Jesus Christ can calm the wind and waves, it can also calm the storm in us.
God does care. God does love. God does calm our fears... In the middle of the strongest storms... God is present through the Spirit of Christ to hold us, to comfort us, to strengthen us. And when the storm has passed, our ministry continues... the ministry of reconciling the world, to Christ.
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