Summary: The crucial question is not, "Why do bad things happen to God’s people?" The crucial question is "What is the purpose of my life?" (Powerpoint #313 available for free.)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(The Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for PP #313.)
ILL. Some years ago a song came out that contained these words, "There’s a broken heart for every light on Broadway." And I can recall being told when I started preaching, "Remember, whenever people come together to worship, be sensitive to them & their needs, for there is a broken heart in every pew."
A. Most of us have experienced enough of the battles & burdens & heartaches of life to find ourselves at one time or another crying out, "Why, Lord? Why did this happen to me? For what am I being punished?"
Those are instinctive questions, because we have learned to accept the fact that "What we sow is what we reap." If we sow bad seed we’re going to reap a bad harvest. We realize that if we sow seeds of sin, bitterness, hatred, carelessness, or disobedience, eventually we’ll reap that kind of a harvest.
But what if we haven’t sown those kinds of seeds, & yet some tragedy enters our life & we find ourselves bearing burdens that we don’t understand & don’t think we deserve?
In such moments we may ask questions like, "Why, God? Why do bad things happen to me? Are you really there? Does it do any good to pray? Do you care about me?" These & other questions arise as we come face to face with tragedy in our lives.
B. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" There are some who would give you a quick & simple answer to that question.
ILL. Go to the religions of the East, & they will say that you are in a cycle of reincarnation, & you’re being punished in this life for some sin in a previous existence. But if you can find out which one of the thousands of gods you have angered, you may be able to appease his wrath & lessen your punishment.
The Muslim would give a different answer, "Allah has willed it, & you must learn to accept his will without question."
Some respond to tragedy by shaking their fists toward heaven & saying, "God, if you allow such things to happen, then I reject you. I curse you, & I don’t ever want to have anything to do with you again!"
ILL. Maybe some of you have read Rabbi Harold Kushner’s book entitled, "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?" It became a best-seller. And he gives a different answer.
He says that "God is limited in His power, & therefore He is not a participant in our lives. Instead, He is a spectator watching us with interest." He says, "God wants to see good things happen to His people, but He is not always able to arrange it."
His conclusion is that God is not all-powerful, & we ought to understand that & love God anyway, & forgive Him for His shortcomings. Now that is an interesting twist, isn’t it? The Rabbi says that it is our turn now to forgive God for His failures.
C. Obviously, I don’t agree with that. I don’t think the Bible agrees with that, either.
In the Book of Revelation 15:3-4, are these words from the O.T., reaffirmed again in the New. "Great & marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just & true are Your ways, King of the Ages. Who will not fear You, O Lord, & bring glory to Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come & worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed."