read the Bible and try to follow what scripture tells me to do.
Why aren't things working out better for me?
in a conversation with someone the other day who was brought up
to believe in the Bible literally. She was a person who had suffered
deeply and experienced much loss. She felt an anger toward God and
was plagued by questions such as…"If there is a God,
then why have so many bad things happened to me? I thought if you
followed God, bad things weren't supposed to happen to you so much.
If bad things are going to happen anyway, what help is it to believe
in and follow God?"
was stuck in circular thinking that comes, in part, from reading
literally passages such as Deuteronomy 11:13-19: "If you will
only heed his every commandment…then he will give the rain…"
And if you disobey, "…then the anger of the Lord will
be kindled against you and he will shut up the heavens, so that
there will be no rain…then you will perish quickly…"
Religion reduced to a transaction. Essentially it is a self-interested
transaction. If I do right by God, then God will take care of me
and prevent drought and other bad things. But when bad things happen,
then it must be somebody's fault. The nearest place to look for
blame is probably the one who is suffering. Therefore victimize
good is believing in God?" she asked me, wanting to put down
the anger that is a byproduct of her suffering. We talked.
believe that life with God does go better, truly, than life without
God. But not in the sense that we get a pass on suffering, tragedy
and misfortune. Christians say that when we look
at Christ, we see the face of God. The picture we see declares that
God is with us in suffering, tragedy and misfortune. And it says
that such things will not be the last word. God brings resurrection.
But Jesus did not experience resurrection until he had died. It
is that way for us sometimes as well.
we choose to accept the relationship that God offers us, it can
change our experience of life, including its suffering. And here
is the offer— God loves us and God is with us. God loves us
unconditionally even before we have responded to God. God is with
us so we can live with a new energy of presence and confidence,
even in the times of suffering. The worst that can happen can be
united with the cross. It is given meaning and hope, even though
it may not disappear.
in some sense, things do go better when we believe in and follow
God. But "going better" doesn't mean that we won't experience
drought and bad things. And when bad things happen, it doesn't mean
someone has to be blamed, especially not the one who is suffering.
If the cross can happen to Jesus, then tragedy and injustice can
happen to us as well. Experiencing our lives through a relationship
with Jesus can change its meaning.
what Paul continually talked about. If you are living "in Christ,"
he says, you are "a new creation." It involves dying to
that old way of living. The old way includes believing that we make
a project out of our lives—the righteous earning righteousness,
deserving blessing; the sinner earning condemnation and misfortune.
Paul has died to that way of thinking.
he experiences everything "in Christ." God loves us and
God is with us. Therefore, whatever happens is new. When good things
happen, rejoice that God has given us more than we can deserve.
When bad things happen, rejoice that God has let you share in Christ's
sufferings. It is Christ's sufferings which are healing the world.
That is reconciliation, says Paul.—
Rev. Lowell Grisham