“Why did God allow this to happen?”
“How can this be part of God’s plan?”
These are the questions we often ask in response to bad news. It can be anything; a layoff, being dumped by someone you love, aggressive cancer – whether for you or someone else.
Why does God allow any of these things to happen? The answer is as simple to understand as it is gagging to swallow. Free Will. Adam and Eve made a choice for all of us in the Garden of Eden. We ARE Adam and Eve! We are descended from them. Their blood runs in our veins. It’s as though a very distant part of our very being ate the proverbial apple. It’s our sin too.
God could stop evil, but not without revoking free will. At that point, we’d be as capable of loving Him as one of those robots that guys in Japan fall in love with (and what is it with Japan, anyway?).
We can’t know true love without free will. Just that simple.
Sometimes downturns are part of God’s plan. Sometimes God’s plan gets thrown upside down by free will. He’s great at improvisation, however. He can take whatever flies we or Satan put in the ointment (or the monkeys in the wrenches), and actually use them to make things come out right.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
We can never be sure which way that equation is running. We aren’t that smart. The one sure thing is that, whether planned or improvised, we can count on a great final outcome. We just need to see past the end of our noses. We need to push out our horizons and trust God past that.
What got me going on this is a conversation I just had with my boss (who is a GREAT guy, by the way!). I’m interviewing next week for a promotion with the company. He’s excited for me and the possibility. I told him what a friend told me some time back.
“Rejection is God’s protection.”
So whether I get a yes or a no, there is no bad news on my horizon. That should hold true for any event, if only we would cast our eyes further down the timeline.
When I was laid off and went through all of the loss several years ago, I was in despair toward the end. Now I’ve got a very good job. The city we moved to has ended up being a good deal. We’re at a great church. I might not be blogging if things hadn’t changed.
When the news gets so bad we can only despair, that’s the time to realize that something is in the works, whether planned or improvised.
Do you recall the joke about two kids sent into different rooms to see a surprise? One found a pony. When they checked on him later, he was sad, because he had no one to play with.
They then went to check on the other boy, who had been put in a room full of horse manure. He was having the time of his life digging around in it. When they asked him why he was so happy in room full of manure, he said, “Mister, with all this poop in here, there’s GOTTA be a pony somewhere!!!”
When you’re in a pile of poop, remember there IS a pony somewhere!
When I had double bypass surgery years ago, Julie and I spent time in prayer. We both knew that me coming out alive was not assured. We weren’t looking at lancing a boil, right? I told Julie that I knew I’d wake up to one of two faces; hers of God’s. It was a no-lose scenario. I just had my eyes further down the road that time.
Again, whether planned or improvised, hard times build us up, both mentally and spiritually.
“3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
So, you see, if you can keep your eyes out to the horizon and then some, there’s no bad news.
Have I cried before today? Absolutely! Will I cry again someday? Absolutely! None of us can avoid grief or disappointment, because we are Adam and Eve.
Thankfully, so is our Brother, Jesus. Thankfully, he can take us farther into the future than we can possibly see. All we can do is confess our weakness and pray,
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’”