Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Bad Things Happen, Part 3

This week, I will continue our look at “Why Bad Things Happen”. We have already discussed the first six reasons that God allows bad things to happen. They are to demonstrate His power, grace, works, chastening, wrath and to test our obedience.

Today, we pick up with the seventh reason that bad things happen. They happen to give us a ministry of consolation. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” I think that the key word in these verses is “consolation”!

This means that we may have to go through something bad in order to minister to others who have the same trouble after us. No one can comfort a widow like another widow. Only those “who’ve been there” can know how that other person feels. That is God giving you the “ministry of consolation.” You may be suffering just to help someone else. Not a role that most of us would readily volunteer for.

The eighth reason that bad things happen is for our reward. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:20-21, For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” There is something that we would all do well to remember, this old world hated Jesus Christ and He promised that it would hate us too. You don’t hear that very often from the pulpits across America today, but it is true. You will be hated by the world if you are living for God. That’s reason enough for many of you to question just who you are living for. Are you living for the here and now? – or are you living for the eternal? Tell me the way you voted on March 4th of this year and I’ll answer that question for you!

As a result, many of us Christians have suffered at the hands of the world, thus enduring anything from reproach to martyrdom. It goes along with being a Christian. However, God did promise a reward to those who suffer with him. Paul said in Romans 8:17, “and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

Finally, bad things happen because of our wickedness. Paul said in Galatians 6:7, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” There is a doctrine in the Bible called "Sowing and Reaping." When you and I sin, there are consequences that result. And the consequences often cause us and others around us to suffer. We have no one else to blame but ourselves, though we may try to implicate God and others like Adam did in the garden after he had sinned (Genesis 3:12). Sadly, today we live in a culture in which insists it’s always the other guys fault. That doesn’t fly with God. He hold us each personally responsible for our actions.

I hear Romans 8:28 quoted out of context all the time by Christians who are trying to justify bad things happening in their lives. It says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…” That’s usually where they stop in their quotation. However, the rest of the verse says, “…to them who are the called according to his purpose.” That means that things only work out when you are doing what God told you to!

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