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)
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. John was 31 years old - a new father, & a dedicated Christian. He seemed to have everything going for him. One day on his way to work his car was struck head-on by a drunk driver who had swerved into John's lane. John died instantly, leaving his family devastated.
Amy was newly married, & soon became pregnant. She was the type of person everybody loved to be around - funny, sweet, & so excited about having a child. The doctors assured Amy that the baby appeared to be developing normally. The time came & Amy went into labor. She gave birth to a beautiful daughter, but it was stillborn.
Ronny was a young preacher with a wife & 2 children. He had a lot of promise, & a real passion for the Lord. He was in great health - in fact, he worked out almost every day. But one day Ronny just collapsed & died. No one knows why his heart just stopped beating.
A. We have all heard stories like these - stories of bad things happening to good people. And no matter how spiritual, or how in tune with God we may be, we are left wondering, "Why?"
ILL. We remember Sept. 11, 2001. On that day thousands of people left their homes to go to work like on any other day. They expected to come home to their families when they left. But many of them never got the chance.
We remember the scenes of planes flying into the Twin Towers & the Pentagon, & of the grief of people who lost husbands, wives, children & parents. Our nation was devastated & asking, "Why?"
Most of us have experienced enough burdens & heartaches to find ourselves crying out, "Why, Lord? Why did this happen?"
We have been told that "What we sow is what we reap" that if we sow seeds of sin, bitterness, hatred, 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 think we deserve?
In such moments we may ask questions like, "Why, God? Why do bad things happen to me? Are you really there? Do you care about me?" These & other questions arise as we come face to face with tragedy in our lives.
B. "Why?" Well, there are some who would give you a quick & simple answer.
ILL. Go to the religions of the East, & they will say that you are in a cycle of rein-carnation, & 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.
Muslims would give a different answer, "Allah has willed it, & you must learn to accept his will without question."
Some will even respond by shouting toward heaven & saying, "God, if you allow such things to happen, then I curse you, & I don't want to have anything to do with you!"
ILL. Have you heard of Rabbi Harold Kushner's book titled, "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?" It became a best-seller, & 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. God wants to see good things happen to His people, but He is not always able to arrange it."
His conclusion is that we ought to understand that God is not all-powerful, & we should love Him anyway, & forgive Him for His shortcomings. He's saying that it is our turn now to forgive God for His failures.
C. Obviously, I don't agree with that. In Revelation 15:3-4 are these words: "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."
God is holy & marvelous & just & all-knowing & all-powerful. I trust you believe that, too. And as we look at Him we begin to realize that we don't know it all, & that we can't always tell what is best.
For example, "What would be a good world to you?" If you were going to create a perfect world, what would it be like? If you could give God a list of positives & negatives, things you want in the world & things you don't want, what would you list?