Day 33 of our series is a collaboration by Ralph Reda and Patrick Genova and is a look into how God answers our biggest question question (why?) when suffering occurs around us or too us. You can see more devotionals here
By Ralph Reda & Patrick Genova
Before we get started, check out this video:
There are moment when the disciples are following Jesus and they talk about some of his hardest teachings. In John 6:60 after Jesus gets done teaching them about taking communion the disciples say “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” There are moment when God’s answers are not what we want to hear and there are moments when God does not give us an explanation. This for us is a moment when we can empathize with the feelings of the Apostles, “Who can accept it?” Consider the following verse:
I form light and darkness; I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things.
It is clear from scripture that God is in control of all things. Nothing is a surprise to him. God clearly wants us to understand that He has complete authority over everything, even the disasters that human beings endure on a daily basis. Simultaneously, God clearly displays that He has unending patience and unwavering love for us.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious. Slow to anger and abounding in love.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone come to repentance.
I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
How can we square these two undeniable qualities of God? It’s one of the most common questions/comments from the world. If God is so good, how can He allow all of this suffering to happen?
Job asked God that exact question. Job was afflicted with what we would consider some of the worst of all tragedies. His children were killed, all of his possessions lost, his body in constant pain. Concurrently, Job was also “blameless and upright” in Gods sight. After enduring these atrocities for months, Job challenged God saying: “I sign now my defense – let the Almighty answer me”
Q: Where do you feel like you need answers from God?
God’s response in Job 38 was not what he expected. God did not explain himself to Job. Instead, He answered him with over 70 questions of His own including: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge”; “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”; “Can you bring forth the constellations and their seasons?” God does not give Job the direct answer he was looking for. This is not the first or the last time God teaches us by asking us is own questions.
In Luke 13, Jesus was asked why some Galileans going to worship in Jerusalem were slaughtered by Pilate. Jesus did not give an explanation, He also answered with a question:“Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than other Galileans because they suffered this way?” God knows that direct answers aren’t good enough for us. There are no words that could sufficiently explain why these things happened and even if there were, would it be good enough for us?
Bad things will happen, no one is immune. Jesus singularly implores us to get right with God (Luke 13:3). That should be our only response to the calamities that happen around us. God is patient, but God is also just. Regardless of why or how something tragic might occur, they represent opportunities for us to reflect on the direction we are headed in, to think about the fact that at any moment our lives can drastically change, to understand that our time is limited and we have to deal with life’s most important questions about our relationship with our creator.
Interestingly, there are over 300 trillion viruses inside of us, they are all crucial for our existence. Unfortunately, they also are not immune to the decay that results from the sin that has entered the world (Romans 8:20-22, Genesis 3:17). Disasters and suffering are not a reason for us to question God or His methods. They are a reminder of the tragic consequences of our sin. They are a call to repentance.
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Q: What has God been showing you during this time? What is the number 1 area God is showing you repentance is needed?
The truth is that Jesus understands suffering. Undeniably, He understands it much more than anyone. Would we understand the extent of God’s glory without the immense suffering Jesus had to endure because of our sin? He was beaten and humiliated. He was ‘forsaken’ by God (Mark 15:34); ‘crushed’ (Isaiah 53:10), and ‘cursed’ (Galations 3:13). He endured a brutal and agonizing death to give us an opportunity to avoid eternal suffering and live with God forever.
Q: Does it help you to know that God himself came down to suffer from the same tragedies we are all subjected to? How do you feel knowing He can completely empathize with everything you are going through?
This pandemic, like all tragedies, are a way for God to show his complete authority over his creation that has been decimated by our sin. They also display His amazing love, patience and glory. He doesn’t owe us an explanation. He is God.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21)
Reflect: Amidst calamity we can lose sight of how loving God is, take some time to reflect on all the great things God has done in the world and your life.
Meditate: Really think about your walk with God and the direction of it. How is it going really? How has it been? Where do you need to turn from sin and turn to God?
Discuss: Discuss these things with the people in your life. No ego, just truth about where things are with you. Take the risk and step into the light, it will be the best thing you ever did.