The pain and trials we go through are bad enough. The event itself can do incredible damage. What we need is help. Someone to join us in out sorrows and share in them. Having someone there with us is so helpful, usually but not always. Sometimes while meaning to comfort us people can say some of the most hurtful things, deepening our pain. I’ve heard people say to parents who lost a child: “You know God wanted a beautiful flower for His garden so He picked yours!”
Poor theology spoken form the mouth of a shallow Christian can do as much damage as the event itself. Fortunately I was able to offer the parents the truth: “Our God is the creator. If he wanted a flower for his garden he would create one. He would never take your child!” Death, pain, tears, loss these are all enemies of God. He is working now to eliminate them from planet earth and one day they will be. (See Revelation 7:17 and chapter 21) In the Midwest tragedy was explained as “not having enough faith” or the result of “making a wrong confession.” “If you believe you will receive.” If you didn’t. If you had a slight shade of doubt due to momentary weakness you lowered your hedge of protection and allowed the enemy in. What garbage! Sometimes we can be miserable counselors – like Job’s friends! Better to stay silent than add to people’s pain when they are hurting.
So why do we suffer? That’s the focus for this week. I mentioned a few of the reasons the three Hebrew guys suffered: the result of a King misusing his authority and position, the passing of a flawed law that was not well thought out (The law of unintended consequences), the silence of the majority, the passivity of God’s people, the pressures brought to bear on people of faith by pluralistic cultures, and Israel’s exile due to the sin of idolatry. Not sure these are reasons but the events that put these guys into a tough situation. One thing is certain, they were innocent sufferers. They did nothing to deserve the furnace they got. The same is true for many of us.
So why then are we going through the furnace? Is the furnace a friend of God that he taps to teach us a lesson? Is it possible to identify all the causes of a particular trial or hardship? What does the Bible say? Is there a main cause to all our problems – like the lack of faith or human sin? Are we being punished for something we have done? What answer has God provided for us that will bring healing and not more pain. What can I say to someone who is wounded that will not add to their misery but be of comfort? Let’s find out together.
If you want to read and meditate on the passage I’ll be preaching on read Job 1:8-22