“…The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” ~ Job 1:21
For those of you who have never read the book of Job, or maybe have never even heard of Job, this verse might be confusing. God gives us everything in our lives and he is our Creator. He loves us. But he also takes it away? If God loves us, why would he want us to be without? Why do bad things happen to good people?
I’ve been thinking deeply about this topic for a while. It’s also one of the most frequently asked questions for people curious about Christianity. If God is good, and wants good for us, then why do bad things happen to good people? How can a God that is full of love, allow us to go through sorrow and pain? It’s easy to turn our sorrow into anger at God. It’s a human coping mechanism. You think to yourself “God, this is your fault. You are the Creator and knower of all things. You are the reason this happened.” It’s so easy to turn away when we don’t understand why things around us are happening. But God is hearing what you are saying; and even though it is true, that He is the Creator and knower of all things, His heart breaks with you. And it pains him even more to see you angry for the wrong reason.
At this point, I’m assuming you are thinking to yourself, “Well that’s easy for you to say, but ______ happened to me, and that isn’t something you can come back from.” And here’s the irony; that may be partially true. Don’t worry, I’ll explain. Not too long ago, I lost my baby sister. It was sudden, out of the blue, unexpected. I was in shock for the first week, as I couldn’t even comprehend the gravity of the situation. “There’s no way this was happening…God wouldn’t take away the life of a poor young girl…She had so much more to do in life…” The questions spun in my head, and my anxiety tried to answer them, but my humanity could not understand. In Job, God gave Job everything, and then took it away. Job didn’t understand why, but he never turned away from God or cursed his name. The book begins:
7 God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?” Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.” 8 God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him – honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.” 9 Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? 10 Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does – he can’t lose! 11 “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”
From our opening verse (or if you’ve read the book of Job), you know that Job didn’t curse God when he allowed Satan to test him; not even when all Job’s advisors were telling him to. Job never lost faith that God knew best. And God does! He reward Job beyond his wildest dreams for his continued faith in Him. I took to Job, and tried to preserve through my confusion. Finally, weeks later, the answer to my hurt came, right when I was on the cusp of anger. Most often, when our humanity cannot explain the horrors of this world, we revert to anger. Maybe, it’s because we’re asking the wrong question…. (Dr. James White). In anger, I was thinking “How could God take her away from this earth?” when I should have been asking “What could God be doing FOR her, that he decided she was better off with him?” And once I asked the right question, I was able to see clearer. You see, my sister had a medical disorder. And even though she was the champion over it, she would still struggle with it for the rest of her earthly life. So maybe God decided she was done suffering. Maybe He wanted her to know true happiness. Since most of us have only guessed what Heaven must be like, we assume that our mental depiction of Heaven is where they are going. But what if it is so much better? What if Heaven is our happy place, but multiplied by 10,000! Who wouldn’t be happier knowing their loved one was enjoying that without a care! They no longer feel pain or sadness. Even though the tribulation may have changed you, it is something you can heal from. And my biggest saving grace, knowing God. Because I know Him and his heart, I knew he picked up my sister from her struggles and brought her home.
What does this mean for Millennials? Things happen around us constantly. Some may seem bad, and some may seem good. But that’s only our opinion based on the lense of humanity we see through. Who are we to say what is “good” and “bad”? Sometimes it just takes perspective. And for those of you who are struggling with something in your life, I urge you to find community. Don’t struggle alone. Please reach out to us at The Millennial Christian and tell us how we can pray for you. Struggle with understanding? Let us know so we can guide you to resources that may help. There are so many books, podcasts, and sermons that can guide you to a place of understanding. They may be able to answer the question that has been holding you back from acceptance and spiritual freedom.