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Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad
Tag Archives: job
Why does God allow bad things to happen?
June 8, 2010Posted by on
I know Kevin promised updates on the G90X on Monday’s. Well…Kevin is not here, and I felt like I needed to post this. I will give an update tomorrow on the G90X.
This piece is a companion piece to “Is God Evil”. Just to recap… Two common arguments used by atheists and agnostics alike is that God is either evil because He is in control of everything and allows bad things to happen or He is not in control. In the “Is God Evil” blog I refuted both of those points using God’s Word as the foundation. So the natural response…If God is in control, and God is not evil…why then would He allow these things to happen?
I first began to think about this topic because I had my own motivations to study it. I was curious about why God would allow a recession of this magnitude and other bad things I saw in the world around me. I also was faced with a discussion with an agnostic/atheist who said they refused to believe in a God that would allow such horrible things to happen. This gets to the heart of the matter for a number of atheists and agnostics. Why?
Recently I had a conversation with a woman that I have worked with for nearly a year. Somehow during the conversation she had mentioned something about a trial, so I inquired. It turns out that her son had been murdered. The story is painful. All I could think about was what my response would be had something like this had happened to my kids. Anyway, her son had been shot because of an argument that went out of control. The guy that shot him then proceeded to pour gasoline on him and set him on fire. As she is telling the story she begins to cry, and then the most amazing words came out of her mouth… “I am so grateful that he was saved. I know that I will see him again.” Amazing!! Here, this mother had lost a son, in the most extreme way, and was still grateful to God.
So why would God allow this to happen to her child? Why would God allow a child to be raped (as David pointed out on several occasions from the “Is God Evil?” post)? We could look at the cause of evil in the world today. How the fall of man has allowed sin/disease into the world. I would rather focus on the “why?” as opposed to the “how?” Perhaps the “how?” can be addressed in a future post.
The first thing that has to be said when looking at the question “why” is that we have no way of knowing why God does the things that he does. As smart as we all like to think we are we have no idea. The perfect illustration to this is the book of Job. To understand what I am talking about you have to understand Job. Job was upright and blameless. He had not committed any specific sin when God allowed Satan to strike at him. Thus Job (and his friends) asked the question….why? Why would God do this to him? Now Job claimed he had done nothing wrong, and if he only had the opportunity to present his case to God he would be able to explain this. Job friends said that he had to have done something wrong…otherwise why would God punish him? Neither was right. God responds in Chapters 38 – 42. God challenges Job’s by asking him a series of questions. Basically God asks Job…”Who are you?” He does this in a sarcastic manner. Jobs response in 42:2-3 shows the lesson to be learned. There are things we cannot comprehend, things we will not understand. God makes this point very clear to Job, and Job gets it. What is the first answer to “why?” We will never know until God reveals it to us.
There are additional answers that we have been able to identify from the New Testament that allow us to understand why God would allow these things to happen. In my comments to the “Is God Evil?” post I identified a few.
The question was asked then…”Does God really need to allow these things to happen to display Himself?” The answer is yes. Yes, He does.
– It allows a witness
We draw this example from Christ. 1 Peter 5:1 is an example of how suffering allows us to be effective witnesses. Peter watched the suffering of Christ. For this reason he was able to be an effective witness to the event. Can you speak to suffering, if you have not seen the misery that comes with it? Can you speak to anything with wisdom, if you have not participated?
– It develops our capacity to comfort others
Look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Paul is making two distinct points. First, that God is the father of compassion and comfort. God will always be there to comfort us. Also Paul makes the great point that the suffering we endure will create patient endurance and allow us to share our comfort. Seriously, who is more able to provide more comfort in times of suffering? Those who have not dealt with any, or those who have? This was Paul’s point.
– It is a training tool
Suffering allows us to grow. James 1:2-4 tells us that trials will help us persevere. The Bible verse here says it all. “… that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” See the parallel passage in Romans 5:3-5 “3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
– It displays the awesome power of God’s grace
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 displays this point. Here Paul is under attack, and describes the thorn in his flesh (suffering). Paul pleaded with God three times. God’s response? My grace is sufficient. God did not tell Paul, okay I will make it all stop. God responded by saying, I get it, and my grace is enough for you during these trials.
It is hard to endure or even watch the evil and suffering that exists in the world. How do you, from any perspective answer the question, “Why would God allow that to happen?” Rape, child molestation, murder, genocide etc… Look at the above answers. As painful as it is for us, our faith has to reside in God, otherwise…what else is there? Man? Randomness? Chance? These things happen for any number of reasons that will be beyond our control. We must, in all circumstances, know that we must continue to have faith in God.
Layoffs…Is God Working?
April 14, 2010Posted by on
In February of 2009 I wrote this piece in response to having been laid off from a job I had been at for over 9 years. Reading it today…it is still applicable. I was laid off for 5 months before finding a contract position. All of us have been impacted by this terrible economy. Take heart…God is with you.
Everyone has been hearing about layoffs in the news. 8,000 here 20,000 there. This company that company. I would hear about layoffs from companies like Sprint and not think anything other than “well there goes Sprint again”. I never thought about the human toll that was involved with huge numbers such as that. How do you quantify 8,000 people? How do you put a face to 8,000? How can you have empathy for that many people? The short answer is that I haven’t been able to, that is until January 30th.
On January 30th I was down in Texas for my grandmothers funeral when I received the call that my position had been eliminated. Not having been laid off before, I have to admit that I had no emotions, and to some extent felt some sort of relief that this had happened. Everyone gets to see the disgruntled employee who gets laid off in an interview, and how disgusted they are that this happened to them. They don’t know what they are going to do. They speak with a sense of panic, anxiety, and hopelessness. I kept replaying those interviews I saw on TV thinking, “Is this the way I should be acting, should I be upset?” Those emotions simply were not there. Even as I began to process the fact that I could get to a point where I have no money to pay bills or put food on the table for my family, I felt no anxiety… there was no panic, I never felt hopeless.
I came home the next day, and began to get a feel for the toll this had taken on the people I had worked with. The company I worked for had employed about 500 people. 25%-30% were laid off. Having been at the company for 9 years I had developed a lot of close personal relationships with many of the people there. I began to hurt for these people that I knew, became friends with, went to parties with and grown to know on a personal level.
The toll of a lay off can be devastating. After talking to numerous people who were laid off I began to hear stories of how everything went down that day. The anxiety of sitting around the office waiting for management to call their name, watching friends and piers pack their desks and leave for the last time, seeing individuals who worked in a strong professional manner break down as they were told their position had been eliminated. All I could think about was that I was glad not to have been in the office that day, because I fear that the emotional stress of watching friends and piers whom I had so much respect for breaking down would have been too much, and for many it was.
On the drive home I kept wondering why I wasn’t upset. I had lost my job, the benefits for my family and the ability to provide for my family. In the 9 hours that I drove from Longview, Texas, to Kansas City I finally figured it out.
I started to think about when Jesus walked on water, out in a storm, to the apostles who were in a boat being bounced around by waves. When the apostles saw him they thought it was a ghost, Until Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matt. 14:27). Then one of the most amazing things happened, Peter spoke up and said “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water” (Matt. 14:28). When Jesus said come, Peter got out of the boat!
As I thought about what this meant I was beside myself. Most people would not jump out of a stationary boat, on a calm lake, with a life preserver on, and Peter stepped out of the boat, with heavy winds, and no life preserver because Jesus said to come. WHAT FAITH! Peter walked on water to Jesus in an act of pure faith, IN A STORM!
When Peter realized what he had just done, he took his eyes off of Christ and began to sink. Jesus said to him “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” and pulled him up. I thought about what this meant and how it applied to me. I realized that as long as I had my eyes on Jesus that I would not sink. I started to put it all together. In the week leading up to January 30th I had been talking about walking in faith with my mom, and grandpa, and that no matter the circumstance we have to know that God is moving for us not against us. As my pastor put it Sunday…how can you encourage anyone if you can’t encourage yourself? I realized that at that moment it was time for me to put my faith where my mouth was, and walk in faith.
On that Sunday, my pastor gave an excellent sermon. To be honest he always does. But on this Sunday it was like there was a pipeline running directly into my situation. It begins and ends with trusting God. Psalms 37:3-4 says “Trust in the LORD and do good: dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you he desires of you heart”. The simple way to look at this is to simply trust the Lord, and he will provide. The deeper way to look at this is to trust in the Lord and He will provide you the desires of your heart. As my pastor explained…this isn’t your wants or needs but the true desires in your heart. Happiness, sense of fulfillment, being a good father and husband, serving God, these are the desires in my heart. You want a job, a nice house, a nice car etc… God can provide for the vacuum that sits in our hearts, all we have to do is trust him.
James 1:2 is one of my favorite passages. I have used this passage to sustain me when things at work became overwhelming or when things were bad. James 1:2 states “Consider it a pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. PERSERVERANCE MUST FINISH ITS WORK SO THAT YOU MAY BE MATURE AND COMPLETE, LACKING NOTHING”.
For the many of us that have been laid off, we are now in throws of many trials. Our faith is now being tested. What James is telling us is that this is what will make us stronger and more complete people, leaders, managers, and employees. How do we persevere? How do we maintain ourselves in times of adversity? We learn from the example of Peter, and we have to understand, and BELIEVE Psalms 37.
To wrap this up there is one more thing to consider: the love that God has for us. Romans 8:18–39 describes this love, and what God is going to do for us. Here are a couple of quick highlights:
Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”.
Romans 8:26 – “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:38 – “neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither, the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
A good friend and minister, Kevin Barnes, pointed this passage out to me. When I read it I began to think to myself… I have nothing to worry about. God loves me, He will provide for me.
These are my observations and my experiences over the last two weeks. I would encourage everyone who reads this to think about each of these passages and what it means to them.
I want to close with a powerful statement given by my Pastor. Every crossroad is a revelation of God ready to be revealed. When God moves sometimes it feels like there is a total demolition of everything you know, or have known for years. In my case, this knowledge base and comfort zone was built over the 9 years before the layoff. For those of us who have been laid off, our crossroad has appeared before us. God is beginning to move in our lives.