Well, I didn't get a chance to write last night because I spent the whole evening in the Emergency Room with my son, Chad. He hadn't been feeling well all day and experienced some other symptoms after dinner so we decided it would be better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes. Still don't know what was/is going on, but ruled out some things. Isn't that like life? When things go wrong you sometimes have to try to figure out how to "fix" it, but in so doing, you need to get to the HEART of the problem. When it comes to most things in life, our problems have to do with our hearts!
I knew a pastor years ago who often said, "This would be a great world ... if it weren't for the people!" That may seem like an odd saying for a pastor, but his experience had proven what the Bible says, that all the problems in the world can be traced to people, and the problem with people is their hearts - their spiritual "hearts." Their affections have turned away from God, either because they have never heard of Him or they have rejected the knowledge of Him that He gives in creation and in His Word.
The Apostle Paul explains this in the book of Romans when he writes, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20).
When "life" happens to people who don't know God, the reactions vary from panic and anxiety, to anger and frustration, to sadness and depression. Some years ago a Jewish rabbi wrote a book entitled, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." In the book he tried to explain how God was able to comfort those who faced the trials of life. He relied on his belief that God was loving and kind and compassionate, even when things happened that we cannot understand. His idea was that when bad things happen to BAD people, we can understand that. They bring it on themselves - so he believed. But when bad things happen to GOOD people it is harder to understand. It is then that we must rely on faith, that we must believe that God is with us.
Well, he was partly right - but mostly wrong! The truth is, there are no "good" people. The Bible says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23), and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The reality is that bad things happen because we live in a world deeply affected by sin - OUR sin, as well as that of others. The author assumed that bad things happen randomly and that there is no purpose in them. We know, because the Bible tells us, that trials, suffering, persecution, death ... are all the result of the sin of Adam, our first representative, in the Garden of Eden. Paul explains in Romans 5:12 that death and all these other "bad" things came into the world through Adam's sin. But he wasn't the only one who has sinned ... ALL have sinned!
The GOOD news is that the God who reveals Himself in creation and in His Word, also revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ, who came from heaven, became a man and walked among us. God sent His Son into the world to reveal truth and then to go to the cross to pay the penalty for sin, "that whoever believes in Him should NOT perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Since the pouring out of God's Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), God has been working on the core problem of mankind ... God has been changing HEARTS and drawing people to Himself through faith in Jesus. "To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13). All people are created by God, and in this sense are "children of God," but not all people have been born again and therefore, not all people are the "children of God," spiritually.
When "life" happens to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God the reaction is not panic or anxiety, or anger and frustration, or sadness and depression ... it is trust in the One who has become "Abba, Father." We read in Romans 8:15: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"
What a blessed assurance! Using the words of Psalm 91, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge" (Psalm 91:1-4). As I sat in the Emergency Room with my son last evening, these are the words that brought me comfort and gave me assurance. As much as I love him, his God loves him more, and in that I found ... and I find ... rest. I am his earthly father, but he has a heavenly Father because he has put his trust in Him. And our heavenly Father is always at work, even when the "bad" things happen, because this 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 8:28).
Knowing God as your "Father in heaven" brings comfort, strength, assurance, hope, peace and even joy in the midst of "life." Find your rest in Him today and you will "be strong in the LORD!"