Devotions for Times of Crisis ~ Day 12: "What Is God Trying to Teach Me In This?"
Day 12: “What Is God Trying To Teach Me In This?”
( And Why Can’t I Learn It Without Having To Go Through This???)
There’s nothing in the world like the feeling that God is punishing you. Calamities in life feel like a punishment from God. As we express our feelings to Christian friends we may hear words like this: “God’s not punishing you. He doesn’t do that. He’s teaching you a lesson about life. He’s disciplining you in order to make you a better Christian and a better person” (or perhaps we tell ourselves this). Our friend(s) may be well meaning, but their words don’t help. If anything, they may make us feel even worse. We react by thinking, “Why does He have to teach me in this way? Was I so deaf to Him that I needed to be hit over the head with a 2 X 4??? What lesson could possibly be worth all of this pain, suffering, hurt, and mess??? If God wants me to learn something, why do I have to go through this???”
I get nervous when people try to defend God’s goodness by interpreting difficulties in life as “lessons” from God. It makes God out to be someone who toys with His people, who purposefully sends trouble into the lives of those He loves in order to “teach” them something. That isn’t the God I know, and it shows a superficial understanding of the Biblical teaching about sin in this world.
Some questions that we ask in life just don’t have answers. We’ll never know why God allows bad things to happen to good people. We’ll never know why God allows the wicked to prosper at the expense of the suffering of righteous people. We’ll never know why God, who is complete and total love, allows calamity to invade our lives. But there are some things that the Bible does want us to know in regard to these questions.
First, God does not purposefully bring suffering into the lives of His people. He will certainly use them to build us in Christ-like character, but he doesn’t cause them or intend them. Secondly, we live in a sin-fallen world where the consequences and effects of sin are so many and so deep and so pervasive that nothing and no one is spared their presence in their lives. Even Christ, who was himself personally sinless, experienced the fullness of the effects of sin in His life in His rejection by the people, His suffering, and His crucifixion. Thirdly, that God never abandons His people in times of crisis. He has promised to be with us until the very end of time, and He has also promised us that nothing in all of creation can separate us from His love. Fourthly, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8b). We cannot overlook the fact that, according to the Bible, God’s people are attacked by the Devil through the imposition of troubles in our lives that are designed to cause us to turn our backs on God. Satan does this by causing us to doubt God’s goodness, His love for us, His promises to help us. Troubles in life are the best way to get us to doubt these things.
These are the parameters that the Bible sets around our big questions regarding calamities in life, plus one more: That in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ God has overcome the Devil, has revealed the depth of God’s love for us, and has shown us through His own example that God can – and will – bring good out of evil (The particular good that He brings out of any episode of evil in our life may not be known this side of heaven). Because of this Paul voices the conviction of all Christians: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:1-5).
Has God brought this calamity into your life? No! God is not the source of evil. Will He nevertheless use it for your good? Absolutely! You will learn some things about yourself, and more importantly you will learn some things about God through it all if you read, believe, and trust in His promises, including the promises that He will be with you always, that He works all things for your good, that He hears your prayers and answers them, and that He will provide you with the necessities of life.
Prayer: Lord, I don’t understand why you’ve allowed this crisis to come into my life. I know that your Word promises me that you did not cause it or intend it for my life. Nevertheless you’ve allowed it. That frightens me and it raises questions that I don’t find easy answers too, dear Lord. It’s hard to live with unanswered questions, because without answers it’s hard to see any meaning in all of this. But Lord, I also know that you love me and that you are a faithful God, and that you are walking through this with me and fighting for me. Strengthen my faith, use this to build my character, and guide me and lead me on Your path through it all. In the name of Jesus. Amen.