Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Alternate Ending

It’s possible we are living in “the end times,” the final days of earth’s existence as we know it. The Bible speaks of wars and rumors of wars, false prophets, and natural disasters; we've seen these events escalating in our lifetime. Recently, maybe as a result, I have heard many young people asking, “If there really is a God, why do so many people suffer?” I think the significance of this is important because 1) as parents, allowing your child to “decide for himself” what religion he follows is foolish, and 2) these young adults are truly looking for answers within the existence of a loving, safe God.  Praise God! (They are not asking, “If there really is an Allah,” or “If there really is a Buddha…”)

The times I have relied on my relationship with Jesus are incalculable. My parents gave that to me – making sure I was in church every Sunday, making sure I had a Christian education, giving me something to hold onto in times of wealth as well as times of want. Why would a parent “impose” on their child the importance of good manners or successful study habits, but be reluctant to share their belief system because it’s a “personal choice?” Isn’t bathing a personal choice? Know any parents reluctant to instill good hygiene?

There are those suffering in prison, simply because they believe in Jesus. They don’t receive proper food or medical care; they are not allowed to have the Bible. They must rely on passages of Scripture they have memorized, the knowledge that there are those of us praying and working for their release, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even in times of darkest despair, God is with us. And although that doesn’t explain suffering from a worldly point of view, it does provide comfort. To know that God will mete out justice for those deserving of punishment and mercy, to know that God is in control and knows what He’s doing far beyond anything we can imagine, to know He loves us all and will care for us in ways we never dreamed if we simply honor and trust Him… those are the answers we truly wish to hear, aren’t they? I can’t explain why seven children would perish in a fire, I can’t explain why families would find their homes washed away by a tsunami; what good would it do if I could? Would it be enough? Would it make the suffering of those any less? Aren’t those young adults really looking to know they will be OK?

I have to trust that God’s reasons are as large as the universe He holds. I know He is a sovereign, loving and just God, immutable and faithful, wise and mighty. He is not some grandfatherly benefactor, easily dishing out the "good goods" to those He created. God’s blessings come with a responsibility, a cost if you will – the cost of Christ’s blood, shed to restore us into fellowship with Him, and consequentially, belief in and commitment to Jesus as Savior and Lord. And while that may not “make you OK” by so many of the world’s standards, and it may not fully answer all the "whys," it most certainly changes your life, your role, and the way you view it all.  Honestly, if it all goes to pieces tomorrow, what have you lost?

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