Why is it that bad things happen to God’s people? This is a question often asked … or at least thought.
Yesterday I preached at a small Church close to where we live. On our way home, after crossing a four-way intersection, after a block we approached another intersection where we had the right of way. Those crossing needed to yield.
A “Bolt” driver jumped the Yield Sign without looking to his left and crashed into our car. Why did this happen? We were traveling at about 45-50 kilometers an hour. We were on our side of the road … and suddenly from behind a wall and tree on the corner, the driver of the other car with passengers in it, did not look to his left and drove right through the Yield Sign and into us.
Why do terrible things happen to God’s people? And in our case … let’s add that after selling our house, having booked the transport to move the furniture, packed just about everything in the house, making final arrangement … and with Jenny and Angela leaving on 27 September … and I need transport … why do bad things happen to God’s people?
1) Only God’s people understand why bad things happen to them.
(1) Bad things happen to non-Christians as well. Never think the bad only comes our way. It finds everyone.
(2) Bad things do not come because we have been sinful or are being punished by God. God is not some awful ogre waiting to pour our His wrath upon His blood washed people.
(3) So, why do bad things come to God’s people? The Bible passage I intend using to provide the answer is often misused or tampered with when referred to. It is:
Ro 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
This is a profound passage … one that digs deep into the reality of being part of Jesus’ Kingdom.
(a) v26a. Although saved by grace and heaven bound, we are weak in the flesh, going through many difficulties and hardships, notwithstanding our repetitive sin. As a result we mostly don’t know how to pray for ourselves.
(b) v26b-27. He who is the Holy Spirit, knows the mind of God and knows us and where we are and what we are going through, prays for us. Because He knows the Father’s will for us and because he knows our frailty, He is able to pray correctly for us.
(c) v28. Because of this prayer support from the Holy Spirit, we have the certainty that we are in God’s perfect will and that all we go through whilst upon this earth has, is and will be working together for our personal good, because God uses it for our personal good. This means that even those bad things we can’t understand that keep happening, such as the man crashing into our car yesterday, is for our good. Because the Father called us according to His purpose (v29), we know that even the worst experiences are intended for good because God loves us and we love Him.
(d) God’s purpose (v28) is that all of His people (redeemed souls because of Jesus’ blood sacrifice) shall … be conformed to the likeness of his Son. This takes us back to Genesis chapter one where we see that God created us in His image and likeness. Then there was the “Fall” followed by human depravity and rebellion against God because that image and likeness were tarnished by sin. We call this spiritual death and is the lot of all born human. Yet we see something behind the Messianic Promise in Genesis 3:15 in Romans 8:29 when linked to Ephesians 1:4. Because God chose a people for Himself to be holy and blameless in His sight, He had foreknowledge of whom these would be, so He predestined these to … be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
(e) Each one of these souls God has … called; … justified; and glorified. The passage needs to be seen and taken as a unit. As the Spirit, who knows our weaknesses prays for us objectively, we are able to face all the good and bad that comes our way because God uses these to gradually transform us into the likeness of His Son because we are called, justified and glorified. I have shared all this because of what follows in the Book of Acts … but allow me to say that God who is faithful, will never ever desert you. He who started a good work in you will carry it out to completion. Now that we have an understanding of why bad things happen to Gods people, we need to start looking at what happened to one of these deacons chosen to serve tables in verse 5. Please read:
Ac 6:8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
We shall start opening up this passage tomorrow. Loving, Glorious God, our Father, thank You that You love us so much that You use everything that happens for our eternal good in Jesus. Amen.