Mike Novotny - Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
Two nights ago, I was sitting at a Starbucks with a guy who had a lot of questions. I love this guy because he was really, really honest. He told me his wife had this, like, solid faith. She just trusted all the things that she would hear in church. But this guy had some questions. He wanted to get where his wife was, but he said, "Pastor, honestly, I'm, I'm just not sure and I want to be certain. Because if you're going to believe it, you should believe all of it. And not pick and choose, right"? And he was right. That's why I love that he was real with the questions that he had about spirituality and religion and God and faith.
This week, I want to wrestle with some of those questions so you can be more certain in the things that you hear from God. And I'm going to wrestle with five really tough questions this week. Why does God let bad things happen? Like natural disasters and mass shootings. If Christianity is so easy and heaven is, like, this gift, how do other religions get people to believe in them? If Jesus came back, would he have to talk to a pastor before taking communion? Interesting question. Is it bad to tell people to just believe in Jesus because they have nothing to lose and it would be safer than possibly going to hell? And can I trust my conscience? Should be a good week of questions.
Well, let's start with the first one since its so simple. Why does God let bad things happen? And if you watch any bit of the news, you know that there are tsunamis and there are earthquakes and there are forest fires and there is abuse and there are shootings and children get hurt. And that's all happening in the world out there. But then sometimes it happens to you. There's a divorce. There is an assault. There is stage four cancer. And, like, even if you're a person that's trying to do good and serve God and follow Jesus, bad things still happen. So, why? Well, the Bible's answer to that question is really complex.
You know there are about ten different angles that, pastorally, I could come at that question from. But maybe, here's a couple for you to consider. The book of Job basically tries to answer that question. Why God lets bad things happen to fairly good, devout people. And do you know what the answer is there? To make sure that you actually love God. See, if nothing bad ever happened to you, if God gave you all the health and all the wealth, a perfect relationship, obedient kids, a great boss, great neighbors, great parents and a great family, could you ever know if you actually love God for himself? Or do you just love God because he gives you such a good life?
That's the question posed in the beginning of the book of Job. Does Job actually love God? And will he love God when bad things happen? And do you know what happens at the end of the book? After Job loses his children, his health, his business, all his money, all of his savings, as he wrestles with God: "Are you real? Do you actually love me"?
Well, God actually shows up. And I love what happens at the end of the book of Job. God speaks to Job. He asks him all these questions. And Job says in Job 42, You know what I love about that story? God never tells Job why. He never pulls out, like, the play book and says, "Well Job, I let you go through this, so this would happen. And here was the silver lining of that suffering you went through. And, yeah you went through this storm in life, but here are the crops and the flowers that grew from that storm".
No. All God does is show up. And when Job actually sees him, when he experiences the presence of God, he realizes, just instinctively, that God is powerful, God is holy, God is good and he was wrong to question him. Now, I know that's an answer that takes a whole lot of faith. Especially if you're going through a whole lot of pain. But I can guarantee you this. When you hold on to Jesus and, one day when you see God face to face, you won't beat on his chest.
You won't shake him by the shoulders. You will look into his eyes for a second and realize that he's full of goodness. He's full of love. He's full of wisdom. And he's full of compassion. Now the Bible has a whole bunch of other answers to that question to help you deal with pain, suffering and tragedy. But here's the most important one: That you know that God is God. He's good. You can trust him. No matter what. That's going to take a lot of faith to believe that so let's pray:
Dear God, when bad things happen we instinctively question you. We question if you love us. We question if we've messed up too badly. We question if you're there. We question if you're in control. And so today we ask you to help us with our faith. Help us to trust that you're a God who has planned all things for the good of your people. Help us to believe that you say in all things you're working for the good of those who love you. Help us to hold on to what you say and lean not on our own understanding. Help us to believe that Jesus is at your right hand and that everything is underneath his feet for the good of your church. God, the enemy for years, has been using this question to rip people away from confidence, faith, trust in you and an eternity with you. So help us to have the faith to believe it, to trust it even before we can see it. We pray this all, Jesus, in your beautiful name. Amen.
Thankfully, Job isn't the only part of the Bible that helps us deal with suffering and pain in this life. Is there a passage in the Bible that's really been helpful for you? One that's given you answers or increased your faith or given you comfort in a time of suffering? I'd love for you to put that in the comment section so that we can encourage each other because all of us go through stuff in this life. Big or small, all of us have to suffer until we are free from our suffering and see Jesus face to face. Thanks for your comments. Thanks for your encouragement. And I pray that you have a great day.