This week, I will continue our look at “Why Bad Things Happen”. Last week we discussed the first three reasons that God allows bad things to happen. They are to demonstrate His power, grace and works.
Today, we pick up with the fourth reason, to demonstrate His chastening. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:5-8, “…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” The very fact that God does indeed chasten us is proof that we are His children! Think about it for a moment. I’m not going to chastise your children. They are not mine, but yours. It’s your responsibility to correct them when they go astray because they belong to you! As Christians, we belong to God. Therefore, as His children, he chastises us because we are His!
Why does God do this? - Because He loves us. Hebrews 12:9-11 says, “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” God wants us to be partakers of his holiness and to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. That’s impossible without chastening. God wants us to be perfect (complete). It says in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” And in Colossians 1:28, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” That’s quite an expectation!
It reminds me of Job when he went through his ordeal. In the end, he came out repentant when he said, “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” When our suffering is at the hand of God’s chastening rod, we should come out the same way: repentant and closer to what God wants of us. It says in 2 Peter 3:9 that the “…Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God’s chastening is designed to bring about repentance in our lives.
The fifth reason that bad things happen is so that God can demonstrate His wrath. A prime example of this is found in Genesis 6-8 when it speaks of God destroying the earth because of sinful man with a flood. The world had turned to such wickedness that God could no longer put up with it. So, he just wiped it out and started over with Noah’s family and the animals in the ark. God was demonstrating His wrath. And listen to me when I tell you this, God is very patient. It says in Ephesians 2:4, “But God, who is rich in mercy (patience), for his great love wherewith he loved us.”
The sixth reason that bad things happen is so that God can test our obedience. It is said of Jesus in Hebrews 5:8, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Even God’s own Son suffered so that he could learn obedience. If Jesus had to suffer to learn obedience, just imagine what we have to go through. Compared to what Jesus suffered, it appears that we have gotten off rather lightly.