The following are the notes from this week’s CROSSROADS lesson. Words in bold identify key phrases from notes pages handed out each week. If you would like copies of our slides, please feel free to reach and request them. As these are from the notes pages for each week, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
It’s easy to question God when we see things we don’t understand. How could God allow such horrible things to happen around us? It is in those moments that we must remember the supremacy of God.
Before anyone thinks that saying “God is in control” is a cliché saying, consider the story of Job. Job lived a righteous life, then was tested by Satan through all kinds of unfortunate events and torment. Job goes through these trials without cursing or forsaking God, but he does begin to fall into an attitude of questioning God’s supremacy. He reasons that he is entirely innocent and therefore God is somehow being unfair! Just listen to some of his words…
As God lives, who has deprived me of justice,
and the Almighty who has made me bitter,
3 as long as my breath is still in me
and the breath from God remains in my nostrils,
4 my lips will not speak unjustly,
and my tongue will not utter deceit. (Job 27:2-4)
Job is clearly saying that he is being treated unfairly and even questioning whether God is giving him any justice. His friend later speaks up to tell him exactly where he’s gone wrong…
So these three men quit answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite from the family of Ram became angry. He was angry at Job because he had justified himself rather than God. (Job 32:1-2)
You see, when Job was questioning whether something was “justified” or “right”, he was really questioning God’s judgment. That makes sense when you consider that all things happen under God’s authority. If God allows something to occur, it must be because there is some larger plan and God is going to work through that bad situation to make good things happen. Do we think God is just asleep? Is He just bored with intervening in earthly events? Clearly God is in control. If that is true, when we run into tough situations, we have to avoid the temptation to let anger or confusion be our first response, and instead approach God with our questions and uncertainty. We must pray for understanding and see if there is some bigger plan at work. If we ask God for clarity in times of need, we may just be shocked at what part He has for us to play.
The question is now how we stay encouraged in times of tragedy and disaster.
1.The first thing is to remember is that all good things come from above (read James 1:17). If we spend our time looking for solace in the things of this world, we’re destined for failure. Sure, we may find something that temporarily makes us happy (popularity, drugs/alcohol, hobbies), but none of it will lead to total happiness.
2.Second, we must remember that this is not the earth as God created it. God created the world as we see in the Garden of Eden; pure and “good”. It was only when sin was introduced to the world that bad things began to happen. God is not to “blame” for disasters any more than Apple would be to blame if you smashed your phone with a hammer and it stopped working.
3.Third, we should recognize that these sorts of disasters around the world and in our lives are exactly why Christ came to earth. Jesus came to save us from a life… even an eternal life… of pain and torment. It is during these hard times that we should actually be encouraged because it reminds us of how starkly different the world is from the goodness of God and we are reminded that God loves us enough that He would send a savior so that we could be aligned with Him rather than the pain and sorrow of this world.