It’s been a rough year so far for Bonham. We have experienced a lot of tragedy and loss, especially in the past few weeks. And when I lift my eyes to see the world around me, I am shocked at all of the devastation and darkness that is becoming more and more prevalent. It’s easy to see God working when things are going well for us, but when all we see is sadness, death and hurt, it can get hard. The other day I was reading my Bible and devotional book when I came across these verses from Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord,
that he may be glorified.
Time and time again, throughout the Bible and even in more recent times we are made well aware that God does not spare us from diseases, hurt, pain and suffering. Jesus told His disciples that we would face trials of many kind, and I believe that includes everything that comes packaged up in being a sinful human living in a fallen world- death, sickness and heartache. And boy has that been evident lately! As humans with finite minds, it’s hard for us to fully understand and capture the essence of what God is doing in the world and how on earth those things could be good. What I came to realize during my quiet time the other day was that while the things that are going on may be bad, that does not mean God is not working in them and through them. While He does not spare us from these things, He DOES take these elements and makes full use of them. As much as He does with the good, He also does with the bad.
As the verse from Isaiah says, God is able and does take ashes and makes them into a beautiful headdress. He takes mourning and turns it into gladness. He takes faint hearts and turns them to praise. Everything we consider “bad” was turned into good through the working of the Lord. But now comes the biggie… WHY does God allow these bad things to happen in the first place?
Well that, my friends, is something I am sure we have all struggled with throughout our lives. I know that in my Christian walk I have wondered that many times. Why did God allow my grandparents die without coming to know Him? Why did God allow my fiance’s classmate die in a car accident months after graduating? Why does God allow terrorism to succeed? Why does God let shooters enter innocent, defenseless schools and kill dozens of people? Why did God allow hurricane Katrina devastate a big part of our country? Why, why, why…?
And finally the big one: Why did God allow sin to enter the world?
After many years of wondering and asking God why He lets such awful, bad and evil things occur, I think He’s finally opened my eyes to some truth. I think He allows these things to happen because through them, whether we see it or not, He is ultimately glorified. He is able to take the deaths, the sickness, the heartbreak and devastation and make those things work together for good. He allows them to happen because through those bad things, He is lifted up. His goodness, His wisdom, His perfectness, His glory, His power and His light are made all the more evident through the times when we are surrounded by darkness.
So this is my encouragement to you. When you (and I) hit times when all we see are the destruction sin has created in the world, remember that through those events, He is and will be lifted high. Instead of looking around at the darkness, look up towards the light. My prayer is that through these times we are facing, that His name be lifted high, that He be glorified and that God’s name be praised.
For we are being handled by a wisdom that is perfect, a wisdom that can achieve what it intends by taking hold of things which are meant for evil and making them work together for good. God’s infinite wisdom is displayed in bringing beauty out of ashes.
– Jerry Bridges (Trusting God)