Because my priorities were out of wack this week I was still working on my Wednesday night lesson when I found out that our little town was experiencing yet another accidental death. I immediately changed my direction to this topic, "How do I pray when it seems like God messed up."
I don’t know if I did it very well. I think I talked too much, and I think I fumbled the idea a bit, but I couldn’t shake the thoughts that we have to find a place to stand when things don’t seem to be working out. I know from my own experience dealing with tragedy that well meaning Christians can make things worse. I was so sick of hearing that my parents’ death was part of God’s plan. That didn’t help me; it just made me think God was a jerk for planning to kill my parents. I also didn’t like fake platitudes and people trying to brush the hard truths under the rug. I mean if I can trust in God to be with me after tragedy why couldn’t I trust him to be with me before tragedy.
What I love about the Bible is that it doesn’t shy away from feelings just like these. It is full of people in the Bible who aren’t very happy about their life or their situation who are crying out to God. It is also full of these wild statement such as "when you pass through the fire you will not be burned" (Isaiah 43:1-3) These things are a great comfort to know that God is close to us when we are in trouble, and that he walks with us through the hard times of life.
But the one part of this whole equation that I always think gets glossed over is why we have to walk through the fire at all. I mean why doesn’t God just put out every fire? Why doesn’t God stop the waves instead of just promising to be with us? Is it all just a big cosmic training ground or a heavenly ploy to make a like God more?
The answers to those questions are much more complicated than you can cover in a blog post, a teaching session, of maybe even in a lifetime. But those were the questions that I wanted to look at last night because I believe that those were the questions that people were asking.
So I don’t know how well I did. I think I ended up talking too much and just confusing the issue. But I hope the students went away with the main idea.
- This world sucks. We are living in a broken and dying world and to expect anything else is to kid yourself. The fact that we can find any goodness at all in this world is a miracle of God.
- God is good. We must trust in His heart. It takes faith to believe in God and it takes faith to believe that He is good and that he rewards those who seek him.
- God is God and I am not. His ways are above my ways, and just like I can’t expect a table to understand what it means for me to love my wife. I can’t expect to know his mind.
- God promises to walk with us. And here is the crazy part for me. That God promises to walk with us even through the storms. The maker of the wind could calm every storm, but instead sometimes he promises to ride through them with us, speaking soft words to our hearts and comfort to our souls.
- God knows how you feel. And here is the kicker; God himself didn’t shy away from the storms. He was willing to come in the form of Jesus and die for us. He knows the pain of rejection, has felt the pain of loss. And not only that because he is good and he loves us he hurts for us in much the same way that we hurt for our children.
Those are the truths that I cling to when the world doesn’t seem to be making sense. They don’t wrap up every question in a neat little bow. They don’t fit well onto a greeting card that you can send to someone when they are hurting. But so little real truth ever does.
Anyway, again I have rambled on too long. I just wanted to say that because of the schedule of my week I was able to say what I feel was a God’s message for this time in the student’s lives. I may have messed up the words, but I know I was talking about the right thing.