His beloved wife spent many months in pain and sorrow before her death now he is trying to cope with the sadness of his loneliness and the memory of her illness. He asked,
“Why has God forsaken me? How can a loving God permit this sorrow? Even the money I have given to my church hasn’t helped. My faith is destroyed!”
Throughout the centuries Christians (and even non-Christians) have asked this question especially when things have happened in their life that were terrible or just plain confusing.
So, why do bad things happen to “good people?”
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, the Apostle Paul deals with this. Paul was involved in the most important job in the world, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the building of His Church. He had a physical problem that was causing him terrible difficulties.
He called it “a thorn in the flesh.”
This could have been heart or stomach problems, or he may have been crippled, or it could have been a strong temptation to sin, or it may have been the agonizing torture of social ostracism for his dedication to this Jesus. Many Bible scholars seem to think it was a problem with his eyes.
Whatever the problem, we do know from whom it came; 2 Corinthians 12:7 clearly says that the “thorn in the flesh” was “a messenger of Satan to buffet” Paul. In other words, Satan had assigned one of his demons the task of buffeting Paul.
(The word “buffet” is the same Greek word used when the crowd spit in Jesus face and “buffeted” Him with their fists.)
These thorns in the flesh that come our way can come from Satan, and his and purpose is to pound us down and destroy us; Verse 8 says that Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to have this thorn removed from his life. God’ s answer to Paul was the same as it so often is to us…the Lord said, “My grace is all you need, for when you are weak, then I can show my strength.”
God will use the opposition that is sent our way to mold and strengthen our faith in Him.
The exercise of our faith is what helps us to grow. If all were going smoothly, it would not require any faith. It is when things are tough that we can put faith to work.
God used that demonic activity toward Paul to help him to grow… and He does the same for us. Those things in our lives that are attacks from Satan…or even the challenges that are just part of life, God uses them to help us grow if we continue to love and trust Him.
The friend about whom I spoke was so depressed because he misdirected his anger. This friend even said, “All the money I’ve given to my church hasn’ t helped.” Gifts to God’s work are never to “buy” an easy road for ourselves, even though that is what some preachers imply. Our gifts to Him are an evidence of our love for Him, our trust in Him and our desire to see His work carried around the world.
Instead of being upset with God when those bad things happen, we should be aware of how Satan can use those things to create wedges in our lives; Wedges between God and us. Us and our family. Us and our church. We should, as James tells us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness….” (I encourage you to read the rest of James 1:2-5.)
Sharing His Wonder,