Monday, September 8, 2014

When Trials Come My Way

     A close relative of mine recently decided to strap her feet in one of those slippery things called a snowboard.  Not only did she get on it, she went up a mountain and let gravity have its way with her.  She spent most of the day getting up.  There were a few moments of...I guess they call it fun But the fun was all over after she fell just right (or should I say, just wrong) and sprained her wrist.  There was pain. There was disappointment  There were tears.
     And there was also theology.
     After the accident, a well-meaning friend had this question:  "Maybe that means God doesn't want you snowboarding."
     The implication could be drawn from such a question that God maybe sent an angel or possibly spoke a word to trip the snowboarder as punishment for doing something of which He does not approve.  I know God created the law of gravity, and I am certain He did not invent snowboarding.  But I also know that God does not trip snowboarders to express His displeasure. Just what He thinks about the sport, I don't know.
     It seems this question about God's character lurks in all of our hearts.  Often I have seen it surface in the midst of trial.
     A car accident occurs and someone asks, "Where were you going?  Maybe God stopped you."
     Illness sets in and the sufferer wonders, "Is God punishing me for something?"
    Finances are tight, so we begin to think God is perhaps upset about something.
    Is this really how God operates?  Does He run cars off the road?  Does He introduce sickness into the body?  Does He drain our bank accounts when we're not looking?
   The disciples had a similar question for Jesus about a blind man:  "His disciples asked Him,  saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind"  John 9:2.  Read between the lines  Do you hear what these Christians were asking?  They didn't want to know jf God had afflicted this man with blindness.  That was a given.  Of course the blindness was from God, they assumed.  All they wanted to know was whether the man was being punished for his own sin or the sin of his parents.
  Jesus gave a surprising answer:  "Neither hath this man sinned, or his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" John 9:3.  Jesus was not saying that this man and his parents had never sinned, but that his blindness was not a direct punishment from God because of some specific sin.  That does not mean that blindness or other tragedies do not sometimes occur as a result of personal sin.  The point is God does not arbitrarily make bad things happen to us in order to vent His anger or stop us in our tracks.
     Through the profit Jeremiah the Lord proclaims, "I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope"  Jeremiah 29:11.  The problem is, we often don't know God's thoughts toward us.  We imagine He has plans to harm us when in reality He only desires our happiness.  You can search the infinite heart of God to its deepest depths and you will never find anything but good will...for you, for me, for every member of the human family.

(This book is just full of 'good news' isn't it?  It has been so helpful to me, I know you are being helped to as you read and apply these simple things to your life.  God bless your every effort to follow Him, the effort is just surrendering to His will.  Grandma Joan

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