Monthly Archives: February 2012

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

This morning as part of my quiet time devotions, I read John 9 in the natural progression of where I’m reading. Then at the women’s Bible study I attend, even though our study is currently on Ephesians, the same verse (3) from John 9 was shared. Have you ever had a moment where you knew that God was speaking directly to you? It’s too exciting not to share!

John 9 begins: “1 As He [Jesus] went along, He saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'”

I know someone who is dealing with a serious illness who was questioned if she might have sin in her life. What awful things people say, even with the best of intentions! While we may reap the consequences of our actions, I know, I see many people who suffer in this life who seem like angels here on earth.

Have you ever wondered or heard the question raised, “If God exists, why do bad things happen to good people?”

I think John 9:3 answers this in a round about way. God created man for His glory and honor – Isaiah 43:21 says that God formed people “that they may proclaim My praise.” If we can grasp the bigger picture of life – going beyond just day-to-day actions – I think that we need to remember that our purpose in life is to bring glory to God.

In all of Solomon’s wisdom, he realized that life on earth is fleeting – here today but gone tomorrow (isn’t Ecclesiastes a little hard to read?). Why were we made? What is the significance of life? What purpose do we have? What legacy are we leaving?

I’m hoping we can look beyond our earthly sufferings to see that when we do have trials on earth, it is so “the works of God may be displayed in our lives” as John 9:3 says.

Would we be willing to walk through suffering if we remembered that by doing so we were worshiping, bringing honor to and glorifying our heavenly Father in the process? Can we be quicker to thank Jesus for His work in our lives than to complain? This is a difficult call – to realize that we are being used, often even in our darkest hours of life and in our most sensitive trials.

Last night as I was driving home, I heard this song once again on the radio (and I realize it’s a little older now) from Laura Story called “Blessings.” It’s a good reminder that sometimes our greatest trials and disappointments in this life are God’s mercies in disguise.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Can we say that anything that happens in this life – good, bad or even ugly – can be used for God’s ultimate glory, which is the purpose we were created for? Can we choose to live our individual lives this way? Praise God in every moment…

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Hospitality Heals the Hurting

As I was reading my Bible the other day, I saw a little devotional on the sidebar that said hospitality has the word hospital as its root; both of these bring healing to someone hurting. Think about it for a minute.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read that passage – hospitality truly does soothe the soul. I know how much I’ve appreciated it! We even went to a friends’ house for Superbowl last Sunday, and it felt so good to be with others who we love to hang out with. Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-45 that when the Son of Man comes in His glory, He will divide people into two groups (the sheep and goats). Among other things that He said the first group did right was “I was a stranger, and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35).

I remember one of my closest friends and I talking when we first had kids about how it becomes more and more difficult to meet friends as you grow older. There’s no longer school forcing you to meet new people, there’s not new folks walking through the doors of work, and online media makes us feel more isolated than ever because we have lots of facebook friends without people that we can really share and connect with. We talked about ways that we were going to try to meet other moms.

A women’s Bible study I started going to has been great for fellowship (praise God for His answer to my prayers!). In a meeting recently, we were discussing the first chapter of Ephesians, and somehow the conversation turned that we are to live for God and not ourselves. We need to humble ourselves to serve others, and one way we do that is by making it a point to interact with others and not worry about how our house looks or things appear. This is something I’ve been feeling rather convicted about.

You see, we don’t have a dog. While that means we don’t have hair to clean up, it also means that any crumbs that fall to the floor stay there until I sweep them up. I hate to sweep (not sure why?) so that’s the last chore I get done when I make my to-do list. But, if I know someone is coming to our house, the first thing I do is get out my swiffer and get to work on our floors. I also make sure that there’s no dust to touch on any surface anywhere. If no one’s coming over, I let the dust settle while I spend time doing other things like laundry or writing.

That said, I honestly like to have a clean house. Truly, it makes me feel good to have everything in its place. But, I also have three young boys who need my attention. When I think about having friends over, I calculate how long it will take me to scrub everything and factor that into the timing of when I put things on my calendar. (Not to mention what food I’m going to prepare since I feel my cooking skills are much less adequate than most of my female friends.)

But, with all that said, the places I feel most comfortable going to are the cozy houses where there are some toys strewn about, crumbs under the dining room table, and random socks in the corner. So, why do I think my house needs to look pristine to have fellowship with others? It’s ridiculous, and it’s a form of pride in and of itself. My own sense of guilt if my house doesn’t look perfect has inhibited me from inviting others in to connect, have fun and spend quality time together. I’ve been more concerned about what others think than about offering healing to those who need friendship. I want to be a mom that says “hey, stop in anytime!” So, I’m asking God to change my heart.

Dear Lord, help me, invite strangers, friends and family in. Allow me to look into the souls of others and see what they need rather than look at my own house and wonder what people might say if they see Cheerios in our dining room or lint on our carpet. Help us all humble ourselves and truly connect with others face-to-face rather than the texting, facebook and email that has taken over this modern life. Help us serve You by loving others. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

Don’t Diet!

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:20-23

Sometimes we take a godly principle like treating our temples or bodies as holy and therefore try to be healthier and then turn it into self-worship. This can be accidental (oh, Lord, take away our pride!), but it’s something we should be aware of and change. Why do we submit to the world’s rules of what we can and cannot have and eat rather than to the Holy Spirit’s? Why have we read more weight loss theory than books of the Bible?

What are some diets you have tried to lose weight? I lost a good bit of weight on the South Beach Diet where I severely restricted myself on carbs. BUT, I put it all back on and then some when I stopped dieting. While most diets do produce some results, when people choose to end the diet plan, they gain even more weight back than what they lost. The following verses remind me of this truth: Luke 11:24-26: “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Have you ever dieted and then gained more weight back, ending up worse than you began?

I hear people talk about food being the issue (why does it taste so darn good?). BUT, I’m discovering that food is not the problem or the enemy. We need food to sustain us, and God tells us that we are to enjoy His gifts with a thankful heart. The problem is actually our focus on the food (or gift) rather than the Giver. This morning I read in Luke 12:22-23 “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” Instead, we are to seek His kingdom (verse 31). For where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (verse 34).

Are we treasuring food more than God? When we’re dieting, I think we spend so much time focusing on healthy recipes, planning our meals, counting our calories and examining carbs that we forget to focus on allowing God to satisfy our soul hunger with knowing Him more! He alone is worthy of my time, thoughts and concentrated efforts. Does that mean I keep on sinning and overeating or doing whatever I want? By no means! That simply means that my focus has to be on Christ, who was my original motivation anyway. Moreover, He alone is the only One who should be worshipped because of our weight loss.

As if God were writing to us (oh, yeah, He is!), my favorite verse was “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their HARSH TREATMENT OF THE BODY BUT THEY LACK ANY VALUE IN RESTRAINING SENSUAL INDULGENCE.” Why don’t diets work? Because they don’t get to the heart issues where we overindulge ourselves in food rather than running to God when we feel empty.

Dee Brestin (2007) explains in A Woman of Moderation that “You can restrain the flesh for awhile, but when it is let out of its cage, it rushes to its prey. Our real problem is not food, but that we have made it an idol. We worship it instead of God. That is what our sin nature is bent on doing.” Then later “What is it that makes me want to eat an entire gallon of ice cream or want to have a late night snack that turns into an all-you-can-eat buffet? The answer is, I want to indulge my flesh. My flesh cries out to be gratified, and I, lacking self-control, indulge it. That is the problem. Food is not the problem.” “We allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that indulging the flesh will satisfy us…[but] only God can meet our deepest needs.”

The bottom line is that God’s Word is the ONLY thing that can change our bodies. I’ve come to the end of myself on this weight loss journey. I’ve tried going about it the world’s way, and I only ended up heavier, more hopeless and well on my way to being morbidly obese. When I finally have had enough of ‘me’ and put my faith, hope, trust and love in God, I know He will make me healthier for His glory because I am His workmanship, created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Some day I’ll get a new heavenly body. If I’ve only focused on the one I’ve got now, my journey will have been in vain. But, if I try my best to follow God’s commands for this current body while focusing on getting to know the Lord more and more, I’ll get more out of this life and the one to come.

So, my advice would be to read the Bible and forget dieting. It’s not bad to know what’s healthy for you, but allow God to be your focus rather than things of this world. He’ll reward you… and isn’t that what we’re looking for?

Dear Heavenly Father, please take these words and make them what You desire to be read. God, it’s only Your Word that is life changing. May we not be focused on ‘self-worship’ or things that seem to have some form of wisdom but rather on Your Word, which can save us from sensual indulgence and make us more like You. Father, please forgive us and rid us of pride and sin. Make this journey about more than just weight loss. May we know You more, seek Your kingdom, be more like You and glorify You with our bodies, where Your Holy Spirit dwells. We love You and worship You alone. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!