It seems strange when we stand back from a distance and look at our own reactions to the blessings and difficulties of life. What is it about us that can so easily see why the blessings and benefits of life would come our way that we can rejoice and think that is just natural that such good things would happen to us? But when things go in the other direction and everything seems to be going wrong, for some reason we can’t understand that. Our minds rush to the question, “Why is this happening to me?” Many times we will go on to say, “I’ve been living right, been a good Christian and staying out of trouble, so why would God allow all these bad things to happen in my life? You would think that there would surely be times when we would in amazement look at all the blessings of life coming our way and say, “Why would such good things happen in my life when I am doing so many things wrong or failing to do so many of the right and good things I know the Lord wants me to do?” But, even when we know we aren’t living right we tend to see the good things that we are doing and emphasize those while overlooking the things that aren’t good so that it feels like we deserve the blessings all the time.
Why do bad things happen to people who are trying hard to do right and please God? It can happen in all kinds of ways. Sometimes it seems that the people who deal with sickness and death more than anyone else are those who are trying hard to live a life faithful to the Lord. Time and again I’ve been with parents who not only try hard to live right themselves but have made it a habit to teach their children the right way of the Lord. They took very seriously the command of the Lord to not provoke their children to wrath but bring them up in the training and discipline of the Lord. Yet as their children began to grow up they intentionally turned away from the things that God would have them do and have gone off in their own way. Over and over I’ve listened as parents cried and prayed to God wondering why this would have happened to them and their children. Perhaps the thing that has hurt more than any other is to see the person who has tried hard to be a faithful husband or wife, working as loyally to God and their mate as they knew how to do, only to see their marriage disintegrate before their eyes. What is even more puzzling is when both the husband and wife are trying to live right and be true to the Lord and their marriage partner, only to see their marriage falter and fall apart. Why would such a thing happen? Why doesn’t the Lord save such marriages and bring peace, joy and fulfillment to their marriages?
In the Old Testament we read the story of Hosea the prophet who was a faithful and loving husband, but his wife gave herself to prostitution and went after her lovers, even though it led away from her husband, their children and a good life together. In her prostitution she didn’t even have enough food to eat and Hosea sent food to her while she was living unfaithfully to him. Job’s family fell apart even though he was the most righteous man in the east. When his children all died his wife became discouraged and bitter and encouraged him to curse God and die. The truth is that a couple can drift apart in marriage even while both are trying hard to live a devoted life to God. It would be wonderful if they would always realize what is happening soon enough to turn things around and rebuild the relationship that God wants us to have in marriage, but it doesn’t always work that way.
In many ways it seems to me that the hardest battles fought by the Christian as far as things going wrong in life, are with emotional and mental issues, so that they look healthy and sometimes even sound healthy but they are torn apart on the inside. While it may seem that they are doing fine and everything is as it should be, they feel torn apart by depression, fear, disappointment, destress, despair, regrets and overwhelming guilt. You might meet them and see a glowing smile and feel a hearty handshake or hug. What you can’t see is that down deep inside they are going through a fierce battle. In the middle of the crowd they feel so alone that it seems to them that they have been abandoned by the whole world and God with them.
Why do we go through such times? Why would a Christian struggle with such mental and emotional anguish? Does it mean our lives aren’t right with God? Listen to the words of Hebrews 5:7-10: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus never did anything wrong. He is the perfect human being. Yet in the flesh he struggled, he cried out to God in anguish and tears. When the gospel writers tell the story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane it is with him on his face and sweat as great drops of blood coming from his body and he agonized with God in prayer. It is a horrible time with him anticipating the agony of the cross, when he would take on the sins of the world and pay the price for our sins to be forgiven with his own blood. Yet he was being made perfect as our savior through the suffering. Through such suffering he learned obedience and became the source of eternal life to all those who obey him.
Troubles, sickness, pain, hurts, agony, distress are all hard, especially when it is us who are going through them. But there are blessings from God and lessons God wants us to learn that can only be learned by us in the middle of tough times. Just as one can’t build muscles sitting around watching videos, so one can’t learn endurance for God sitting on a comfortable pew. It often requires some suffering. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Paul wrote, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”