Devotional Thoughts for Today
Lk. 10:30 (NIV): “In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.’”
Matt. 7:24-6 (NIV): “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
In 1981, Rabbi Harold Kushner, after tragically losing a young son, wrote a book entitled, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. If some preachers were to write a book based on Luke 10:30, they would name it, When Bad Things Happen to Bad People. Noting that the man in the parable went from Jerusalem, the city of God, to the pagan city of Jericho, which was cursed by Joshua (6:26), many preachers have said that he was being punished for rebelling against God.
“Bobby” who was in my youth group in the early 1980s would’ve agreed with that conclusion. After a teaching based on the wise and foolish builders, I had the students draw a picture to show what they’ve learned. But when I saw Bobby’s drawing, it dawned on me that many Christians think this way: In the world according to Bobby, the natural disasters (rain, flood, and wind) in the parable struck only the house built on the sand (i.e., “bad Christians”), but the house built on the rock (i.e., “good Christians”) was completely spared.
The first time I really felt how illusory Bobby’s world was when my sister-in-law died of cancer at the age of 32; she left behind two small children. The second time was when my brother-in-law also died of cancer at 43; he, too, left behind two small children. Both were believers. And I didn’t find much solace in Kushner’s words: “I can worship a God who hates suffering but cannot eliminate it, more easily than I can worship a God who chooses to make children suffer, for whatever exalted reason.” But I felt that you should let the grieving parent mourn, while you bite your tongue and speak not. Elihu bit his while listening to Job defend himself against his misguided friends, saying, “It profits a man nothing when he tries to please God” (34:9), until he could bear no more.
Job was wrong. So was the rabbi. At no time did God fail to be good and all-powerful. Living in a fallen world, we’re grateful for the life that God has given us—mostly good things, but some bad—until we are called home. Ultimately, we bite our tongue before a God who let his Son suffer so that we might live.
Lord, I praise You for the life that You have given me. While I complain when misfortunes come my way, ultimately, I am thankful that these are golden opportunities for me to realize how good I really have it, especially living in the West. This is all due to your unmerited favor. Help me to live for You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 39
Lunch Break Study
Read Jn. 5:14 (NASB): “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.’”
Ps. 103:8-10 (ESV): “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”
Job 38:1-5 (ESV): “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:  ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.  Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?’”
Question to Consider
- Can sin cause sickness? If yes, give some examples.
- Does sin always cause calamities in life? Why or why not?
- Based on Job 38:1-5 (38-42), what is God saying to Job? What would God say to Rabbi Kushner? What would He say to you the next time you complain about God because of something bad that has happened?
- Yes it can, but not always (Jn. 9:3: “Neither his man nor his parents sinned”). My brother-in-law died of lung cancer even though he never smoked, but things like drinking and smoking can shorten the average life span. An example would be many deaths resulting from drunken driving.
- We never fully get the full consequences of our sins because God is always merciful. This is why complaining to God when bad things happen in our lives is a form of ungratefulness. But we are all too human and God allows us to pout—we see this in psalms. My favorite: “Awake , O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself!” (Ps. 44:23).
- God is saying, “Don’t forget that I am the Creator, but you’re a creature with many limitations. You don’t understand everything that is going around you because of your finiteness. Harold, I grieve with you over your son (Jn. 11:35) and because of your loss of confidence in me. Believe in my Son Jesus; I let him suffer so that you might live.”
Did anything happen today that caused you to question God’s goodness or His power even for a moment? It happens! But let’s regroup before turning in; reflect on what God said to Job; and dwell on His infiniteness, while being very personal. He can be trusted. Proof? A suffering Messiah Jesus. Pray.