God-Induced Misery?

Posted on November 30, 2011 by


What if that terrible thing that happened to us was really God’s will? That sounds strange because we have been conditioned to believe that the good things that come our way are by the hand of God, but the bad things that come our way are from one of three sources: our (or someone else’s) disobedience, an attack of the devil, or just the natural outgrowth of the fact that we live in a fallen world. I can attest to the fact that this is usually the way my frail mind rationalizes the bad things that happen to good people. I was wondering where, exactly, my pastor was going with this. Until we went to the book of Ruth.

Anyone would be hard pressed to argue that the deaths of Naomi’s husband and sons were not orchestrated by God to send Naomi back to Bethlehem and by extension, Ruth to where she would meet Boaz. The union of Boaz and Ruth, of course, led to the birth of the David, the most celebrated king in the history of Israel, through whose lineage our Messiah would eventually be born. In light of the ultimate outcome of Naomi’s tragedy, should we write off all tragedy as anything but the will of God because it doesn’t fit our human narrative of who God should be?

The point of the message was that while we certainly need to develop a conscience that is sensitive to sin, it is equally important that we condition our consciences to accept the will of God. Our ability, or lack of ability, to do this could be the difference between a life of peace and blessing and a life of bitterly striving to undo and rationalize every bad thing that happens to us. How many of us have steamrolled through the valuable lessons of life simply because we believe that the pain and suffering we endured couldn’t possibly serve a higher purpose if not readily evident?

I thought of my husband, who rarely, if ever, stepped foot in a church or contemplated the nature of Biblical truth before the pain of losing his mother consumed him as he was only 20 years old, starting him on the path to becoming a man who kneels with his family at night to give thanks to the gracious Creator of the universe. I am not, nor never have been, one who puts a lot of stock in “jailhouse religion” on religion birthed in the fiery trials of life. True salvation is marked by an acknowledgment of our sinfulness and need for a Savior, not a need for God as a life-preserver. I do, however, believe that He uses the trials of life to get our attention, to get us to look up and outside ourselves for the answers to what life is really all about, which often leads to repentance, and I believe that is what He did in the case of my husband.

Can God accomplish his purposes in the earth without the accompanying pain that often  precedes the blessing that eventually appears? Certainly He can. After all, He is God. But as a people Created with the ability to embrace the loving boundaries of an all wise God or reject them in favor of our own way, we sometimes need the trials and pain of  this life to get us to look to Him rather than to ourselves or to those as foolish and  powerless as we are. As believers, we should pray as Mary did when her life was interrupted: “ Be it done to me according to Your will, O God.”

That was so much easier for me to type than it is for me to do!

Is it possible that the bad things that happen to godly people can sometimes be the hand of God for a greater purpose?

Posted in: Religion