Monday, November 29, 2021

 When bad things happen, where is God?

Probably about a year ago or more... I noticed a strange lump on my left elbow.  It grew and grew until it was so large it fit into the cup of my hand.  It was rather unsightly so all summer, no matter how hot it was, I wore long loose sleeves to keep it hidden. 
It was a lipoma -- a benign tumor that grows under the skin.  It can grow anywhere on the body. 
There is no cure or treatment -- it can only be removed by surgery.

      I was combing my hair in front of the mirror one day last week and  looked at the growth protruding from my elbow.  I talked to the Lord about it. "Lord, I know it isn't life threatening and maybe I am being vain , but ... couldn't you just melt it?  Take it away?"
Later it seemed to me it might be smaller, but I thought I was just imagining it and I went to bed.  The next morning when I got up, I realized that it was completely gone, completely, as if it had never been there. I could feel the bones of my elbow !  I went into the kitchen and said to my husband.. "Do you believe in miracles?"   He said, "Yes, of course !"  and I held up my arm.  He looked, stared and then shouted .. "Praise the Lord !!!!"   
It took me a while to believe what the Lord had so lovingly done for me.  It felt like a warm hug.  

     I could have asked... "Lord, why did you so easily get rid of this tumor when I asked, but you have not healed me of Celiac nor rheumatoid arthritis that has caused me so much pain and suffering over the last 25 year." I did not ask God that question because I know the answer.  God did not heal me of my RA because there is a reason for  it.  It is needful in the purposes and plan of God that would be hindered if He healed me.  

     I like to think of it this way.  A child becomes very ill and is in hospital undergoing frightening (to the child) ,uncomfortable, painful treatment and procedures.   The child cries and begs to go home - looks to the parents to stop the hurting.   The parents are there and their heart aches for the suffering of their beloved child but they do not remove the child from the hospital or prevent the treatment given by the doctors and nurses.. Why?  Because they know this is the only way for their child to be helped and the only way for it to get better.  They stay with the child,  bring candy and treats to brighten their day , hold the child in their arms and love it... their hugs assuring the child of their love. And the child trusts them. 

      So God too has a reason why He does not always heal us or prevent the difficult times that come into our life.  But He allows only what He can turn for our ultimate good and for His glory. 
It is not easy to understand or see purpose when we are in the middle of suffering, just like the child in the hospital -- but one day looking back we  see what God accomplished through it.  

     God so desires us to trust Him, know Him as a loving Father and he gave us so many examples in the Bible to show us His ways and purposes when 'bad things happen'. We tend to read the stories backward and go... Wow!!  but stop and think about what it was like for them BEFORE they saw the purpose of God. 

     We see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo who were trying to survive in a foreign land,to worship God when everyone else was worshipping false gods and idols.  And of course they were hated !  They were 'tried and found guilty'  and they were condemned to be thrown into a burning furnace.  We read their brave words but any one in their situation would  have felt dread and fear twist their emotions . just  thinking about being burned alive !!  Where was God?  The king looked into the furnace and saw 4 men walking.. not three ... God was in the furnace WITH them !  (Daniel 3:25)

     We think about Joseph and all he suffered for so many years..  torn from his family, made a slave, falsely accused, thrown into painful stocks in a prison and yet Joseph recognized that while 'men' meant his suffering for evil, God was working it for good... not just for Joseph but for many many people. (Gen. 50:20)

    Who does not know the story of Job and his suffering ?  The  financial losses, the killing of his servants and his children, then the loss of health .. his wife turning on him, and his friends accusing him. Where was God ?  watching over him, in control, knowing that all would be restored to Job double.. but the best thing would be that Job , instead of living in fear, would come into an intimate relationship with God. (Job 3:25,26 -- Job 42:5)

     We see Paul who begged God to take away "his thorn in the flesh" but God refused. Why?  Because God understood Paul's natural bent and He knew that without a 'deterrent' in his life Paul would grow proud of what God could do through him and his ministry and God's purposes would be spoiled. Without the thorn in the flesh , Paul may not have written much of the New Testament. (II Cor. 12:7)

     A king' son was sick and he died.  Why did God allow the child to die when he had not done anything wrong?  Why was his life cut short?  Where was God?   Watching... and we are told that God took the child to Himself because  the palace family was evil. Only the child had 'goodness' in him and God could not bear for the child to suffer the wickedness around him so He 'rescued him'. ( I Kings 14:12,13)

     Then we have Jonah, unwilling to obey God's command to go to Nineveh and he ran away to hide in a ship going in the opposite direction.  Then when the storm threatened to sink the ship, there was only one way to save the ship and crew, throw Noah overboard.  Where was God?  Right there watching, and had a big fish ready and waiting to swallow Jonah and when Jonah repented , throw him up on land.  Jonah reluctantly then obeys even though his heart is not in it and he hopes that God will NOT save the Ninevites.  Jonah has a bad attitude but where is God ? Right there.  He even causes a plant to grow to shelter Jonah from the heat.  (book of Jonah)

     I could go on and on. The stories are so many,  addressing so many different 'bad things that happen'. Take note when you read the accounts of the Bible characters, put yourself into their shoes and then follow through to what God was able to do in the end. It is the endings we love and remember but the 'end' could not have come without the difficult times.  

     So when you feel alone and abandoned in the middle of trials and trouble remember that God cannot lie!!  He says that He is "no respecter of persons" -- meaning that God does NOT make one person more important than another.   If you believe that ANYONE is important to God then you have to write your name alongside   What God will do for one, He is committed to do for you!   He will not let you go through anything that He will not go through with you and work for good, no matter how hopeless it looks. 
     He gave us His Word, His LIVING Word .. .it is not a yellowed letter, long-ago written and forgotten, out of date. NO .. it is new and fresh every morning, not one word has ceased to have meaning for YOU.   God put  living examples in our Bibles  to prove who He is and since God is the same yesterday , today and forever, we know that what is true in the past is still true today. 

     Our God is truly a faithful and ever present God -- His eyes, full of love, are upon us , His purposes for our life are for good and not evil and we can without reservation trust Him completely knowing He is right beside us walking WITH us. And we can count our blessings, even in the midst of the storms.