I was recently visiting with some high school seniors and asked them what their classmates thought about God. “They’re sometimes confused”, they said. I asked them to explain. “They see bad things happen in the world and wonder why. If God is God, then why didn’t He prevent it?” Immediately, I thought how so many adults wonder the same thing. No matter if we are a teenager or senior citizen, this is a common response to tragic situations.
We see stories of this in the Bible. This is one of many things I like about God’s Word. It shows what real life is like.
When Jesus, God’s only Son, hung on the cross and was near death, He looked toward heaven and cried out in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:46)
When King David led the nation of Israel and was facing enemies who threatened the future of his nation he wrote, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)
When Moses was struggling to lead the Hebrew people, tragedy struck and the people rebelled. Moses lamented before God, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?” (Exodus 5:22)
It is natural for us to question or even become angry at God when bad things happen. But when they do, how are we going to respond? It is one thing to analyze and talk about situations from a distance, but what about when your right in the middle of it? Here are four ways Jesus responded to the evil and injustice of His own circumstances.
- Accept the reality of evil and believe it can be defeated. When Jesus faced His death, He understood the evil that exists in the human heart and the evil systems in our world. He accepted its reality, but determined to walk through it, knowing evil would not overcome Him, but He would overcome it. Do not live in denial of your painful situation. Accept it. But know that Jesus is bigger, greater and more powerful. And when you place the full weight of your trust in Him, you can overcome.
- Turn toward God, not away from Him. As Jesus hung on the cross feeling the weight of the world on His shoulders, He cried out, “Why God?” Notice, He did not complain to the thieves crucified next to Him or to others nearby. Rather, He turned His words of sorrow toward God, pouring out His heart and remaining faithful to Him, enduring to the end. Our emotions in the moment can lead us away from God, where we complain to others, mumble to ourselves or even lift our first toward the heavens. No matter how dark things get, keep turning to God. Do not believe your circumstances have the final say. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus.
- Face evil with a spirit of forgiveness and graciousness. Jesus faced His unjust circumstances and accusers with forgiveness and graciousness. This does not come naturally. Our tendency is to lash out at others and become bitter and isolated. Only with the Spirit of Jesus in us can we live as He lived.
- Overcome evil with faith in God. The Scripture teaches that Jesus faced His death with joy. How did He do that? He knew that He would rise again and conquer all the evil and injustice around Him. When devastating news comes, grab hold of Jesus. Endure. Persevere. If you have trusted in Christ, your suffering will be for a season. We do not know how long it will last, but our victory is certain. This is the believer’s certain hope, as Jesus rose again and overcame, so will we.
A prayer for you to pray – “Lord God, I take my questions, frustrations and anger, and lay them at your feet. I turn from my sin of unforgiveness toward others and anger toward you. Lord, be my Savior from my sin and my Savior in this dark valley. Rescue me oh God! Change my heart today. Give me hope. Give me You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Read Clint Decker’s HOPE FOR TODAY column post here or on the blog site.