Someone asked me this question just the other day. I had to take a breath and think for a minute. I’ve heard this question all my life, but I have a new found perspective on how to answer it.
First of all, there is no such thing as a “good” person. The Bible says we are all sinners and we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. There is nothing good in us. Isn’t that so obvious when you really think about it? When we are left to ourselves, nothing good happens. We are sinful people with selfish, prideful natures. Paul wrote about the struggle of our flesh so often, and he had to be the greatest Christian that ever lived. God even gave him a physical weakness to keep his pride at bay, so that tells us how strong his flesh was. Yet, he overcame by the power of the Spirit and did mighty things for God. But, we have to first realize that we are not good. Without Jesus, we are incapable of good. So, we come to him, repent, and let Him clothe us in His righteousness. Then, we can do good things because He is living in us.
In light of this, I’m going to change the question a little. Let’s say it like this….”Why do bad things happen to people who are living for God?” Let’s look to David to help us answer this question.
Psalm 31: 19-24
Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind! (another version says “before the watching world”)
In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!”
I love verse 19 and the thought of God blessing us before a watching world. The entire reason God leaves us here on this earth, after we are saved, is so the rest of the world can be saved. God desires that none should perish. He wants everyone to come to Him, because He is a God of love. He sent Jesus to live as our example, and to die for our sins. Then, He created the church as a living example of Jesus on earth. How could lost people ever be saved and come to the knowledge of Christ, if we, the church, are not living as an example in front of them. God uses our lives to demonstrate His nature. Sometimes that comes through blessings – and the world can see that He is a God who loves to bless His people. And, sometimes it comes through difficulty – and the watching world can see that He is a loving God who never leaves or forsakes.
There is a song lyric that goes something like this, “If I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them.” The lesson I have learned in the past month is that God truly does walk with us in the valley of the shadow of death. He truly is near to the broken hearted. The Holy Spirit truly IS wisdom. God is using our situation to prove His Word to me and Clay and our family. I believed all of it before, but now, He has proved it. And, for some reason, He chose my family to demonstrate to the watching world that He never leaves us. No matter how dark the valley is, He is with us. He is holding us. He is giving us strength to walk through it.
We were talking to a dear friend, Jeff Lee, the other night and he was sharing some things that God has been showing him while he’s watched our situation. They were all things that are in my heart, too, but it was a blessing to hear them come from someone else’s mouth. We know that God can heal Clay. He could just speak the word and in an instant, his body could be perfect. We believe it with all of our hearts. But, what He is demonstrating to the watching world, by not healing Clay, is just as powerful of a testimony. Mockers would look at us and say, “Where is your God now?? Huh? Why won’t your God save you and heal you?” But then they would just have to look back at our smiling faces as we tell them that we trust God, no matter what. Our faces are not filled with fear and anxiety. They are filled with joy and anticipation. That is not because we are anything special. It is because the Holy Spirit has given us a strong resolve and a very strong faith that is trusting in Jesus. We have surrendered our lives to Him, so we just have to trust that He is working. And He is. He is receiving glory.
The next reason I believe God allows difficulty in our lives is so that He can make us great kings. Look at David’s life. David didn’t instantly become a great king when God plopped him down on a big beautiful throne. God developed the heart of a great king while David was out in that wilderness, running for his life, and fighting his greatest battles. He taught him how to depend on God, how to love God, how to encourage himself in the Lord, how to seek the wisdom of God, how to wait on God, and how to follow God. If David had not gone through the wilderness, He would not have been a great king. If we can focus on what God is trying to accomplish through our lives, rather than focusing on our pain, we can do so much more for the Lord with our lives. Ask God to show you what He is doing. And ask Him to make you willing to face your wilderness, so that He can make you a great king.
II Corinthians 1: 3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
God allows our struggles so that we can relate to one another and comfort one another. We are to love each other, as God has loved us. When we have walked through difficulty, we are better equipped to comfort others who are struggling. I am seeing this to be so true right now. I can always tell when I’m talking to someone who truly understands how I’m feeling. I met a sweet lady in Izzo’s yesterday. She came up to me because she recognized me from the blog. We’ve never met, so she introduced herself and then she gave me this really tight, emotional hug. When I looked back in her face, I could just tell that she has walked through a difficulty similar to mine. She then told me a little bit about her own story and how the blog has been ministering to her. I thanked her so much for introducing herself and for the encouragement it brought to me to know that our story is affecting people we don’t even know. Her words were so sweet and the look in her eyes was filled with compassion that could only be felt by someone who truly understands where I am. Thank you, Suzie. You comforted me with a comfort with which you were comforted. That is living out 2 Corinthians.
The last reason I’ll mention today is found in James 5:13-16,
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
God desires that there be a cleansing in our lives. A sort of stripping away of the world. When our lives are filled with blessings, we so easily allow the world to creep in. We find ourselves spending hours watching Netflix and baseball games. We veg in front of the TV for days. Or, we fill our minds with music that is not encouraging us to know the Lord. Maybe we indulge ourselves in selfish things that are not good for us. I’m not saying that these things are necessarily sin, but they can lead to sin and they can certainly distract us from the Lord. When God puts us in a place of desperation, suddenly Netflix just isn’t important. Baseball doesn’t matter. The TV becomes an annoyance, rather than entertainment.
My pastor spoke out of 1 Corinthians yesterday. Chapter 10, verse 23 says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Think about this. Because Jesus came, we are not under the law, we are under grace. Paul says that all things are lawful. BUT….all things are not expedient. All things are not best. All things don’t edify us. When we are truly seeking the Lord, we will have a desire to spend our time doing things that are expedient, rather than things that are not. When you find yourself in a place where only Jesus can save you, you change. Your heart begins to push away anything that is not expedient and you only want things that will bring you closer to Him. Of course, we don’t usually live in this state our entire lives, but sometimes God just needs to pull us close, so He allows difficulty to bring us close to Him.
My prayer for you today is that you will allow the Lord to bring you close. That you will desire to be made into a great king. That you will let God strip away your love for the world. That you will comfort others with the comfort He has given you. And, above all, that you will live your live for the glory of God before the “watching world,” so that others will see Jesus through you today.
Thank you for your continued prayers and love. Here are some pics from the past few days. We’ve had lots of visits, delicious meals, and sweet gifts. We love the time we’ve been able to spend with so many of you and we are so encouraged to know that God is using our lives to minister to you right now. Please continue to share your stories with us. It gives us purpose in our trial.
On Saturday, our friends Shawntel and Andy, visited us in the morning. We rested and then one of Clay’s friends from Middle School brought us dinner. Oh my gosh. He hasn’t seen her in years, but she’s been showering us with love and good food. Thank you, Tina. We went to a sweet engagement party for a precious couple in our church. Congrats, Hannah and Sam!!!! Then we came home to the funniest gift I’ve ever seen. $100 gift card to Dairy Queen so Clay can get his M&M Blizzard fix whenever he wants it. Burke Patterson and his family dropped it off while we were gone. So funny! He even used scripture that encouraged Clay to enjoy the sweet things in life. Ha!!
Yesterday, we had an amazing church service. Then we had lunch at Izzo’s with our family and our friend, Jill Wyble. I met Suzie, who I mentioned earlier. We jammed to some oldies, Bebe & CeCe Winans on the way home. Had a visit and a coffee delivery from Kim Barnett and her family. Thank you, Kim! My coffee was soooo good this morning because of you. John Green and Johnny came to visit. Clay and John have been best friends since they were 8 years old! Jason and Chenelle Doise brought us dinner and stayed to visit. We had such a good time with them. We love you guys! (Ben took the pic, which is why the angle is terrible!)
This morning, I’ve been having my coffee and typing this blog. Thank y’all for reading it. I just called Dr. Russell’s office and they are going to call me back with our scheduled time for Clay’s simulation (which is where they make the mask for his treatment.) Once the mask is made, the doctor needs 5 – 7 business days to prepare for treatment. So, we might try to go to the beach or get away for a few days before we start. We’ll be tied to BR for the remainder of the Summer time, so we may try to sneak in a little trip. The best part of my morning was when Grace came home from Volleyball. She had a great time this morning at practice and her coaches have been so great to us. Summer league starts Wednesday, and it will feel so normal to see her playing again!
We love you and appreciate your prayers. Pray for Dr. Russell to have wisdom as he plans Clay’s treatment. Pray for Clay to be well and have strength during the treatments. Thank you!
Right after I posted this, I got a call from both doctors. We are scheduled for the simulation with Dr. Russell on Wednesday and our first Oncology appointment with Dr. McCanless on Thursday. I’ll update you after those appointments. Thank you!