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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Who Gets The Blame?

Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (NIV)

In this message you will find a copy of a letter I sent to a reader who had questions about God's role in misfortune, tragedy, and illness. It is a topic that is often addressed on these web pages. It is a topic for which we have various answers in our theology. As we grow older and grow in wisdom, we see the ways of God in a clearer light. So it is that we come to more clearly understand God's role in pain, suffering, and tragedy.

Before we get to the letter and the responses, we must remember hardship sometimes happens in the hand of God for reasons we do not understand at the time or for reasons we may never understand until we die. The Israelites were freed from slavery and crossed the Red Sea into freedom. However, the former slaves were ill-equipped to take on the responsibilities of freedom. When Moses physically left God's chosen people to go to the top of Mt. Sinai, these people immediately fell into sin and debauchery. As a group, these former slaves had little self-control and little self-discipline. They did not have the hardness and toughness of mind to take control of themselves, let alone the hardness and toughness of mind to take control of their Promised Land. To get the children of God ready for nationhood and the responsibilities nationhood entails, God made them wander in the desert for forty years. God made them wander in the desert for forty years to give them a mindset that would permit them be a nation of His people. In your life, there may be times of wandering in the desert. During these times of testing, to be all that God designed you to be, remember your time of testing can be a time of building up your strength, your endurance, your personal power, and your ability to follow the leading of God in all matters.

Dear Reader,

Thank you for writing to me. Here are my answers. I have put your questions in the form of issues. My response follows the word "Response".

Issue: God and control. What does God control? Does God control everything that happens in our life?

Response: Remember we are in a war in which all of us will die. Remember in this soup of good and evil in which we live, Satan is attacking us and attacking the work of God in us and through us. We are at the center of this tug of war between God and Satan. It is under our control how we respond. We are the ones who control what we say, think, and do when Satan attacks us. In this respect, God does not control us as if we were unthinking robots. God gave us a will and He expects us to point our will in His direction when darkness falls upon us. It is the most glorious of responses on our part to give our life over to God when we are attacked by evil. For Satan's greatest victory is our turning away from God when the bad times come or the going gets tough.

Issue: Doesn't God control anything He wishes to control?

Response: It is true God has the power to control anything He wishes to control. However, God does not control or He chooses not to control all things because of some kind of greater purpose and/or greater glorification due Him in our illness, hardship, and despair. In addition, the onus or responsibility of our life and faith is not to be put upon God (which the control statement implies). The responsibility for our life and faith is to be shouldered by us, not God. God will help us carry these responsibilities on our shoulders but it is up to us to carry the responsibilities. To say God can control anything He wishes to control is saying He actually does pull levers and twist dials in Heaven to arrange everything in our life for us. We desperately want to believe God is pulling levers and twisting dials. We want to desperately believe God controls everything in our life. We want to desperately believe God controls our life because if we can give God the responsibility for controlling our life, then we do not have to shoulder the responsibility ourselves. Did God want to see Christ die on the Cross? No. Did God stop Christ's suffering and death? No. We know our loving God did not want to see His only Son suffer and die on the Cross. Why did God not stop Christ's suffering and death when God wanted to stop this most horrendous of acts? God did not stop this most horrendous of acts by us for a greater good. The greater good to be gained is that fallen men and women could be redeemed. Of all the times when God could have intervened, Christ's suffering and death should have been the time. I would have stopped Christ's suffering and death if I had been God. If I had been God, there would have been no suffering and no death on the Cross. Consequently, if I had been God there would have been no redemption, no new life, no new birth, and no salvation of the soul.

Issue: Since prayer to God can result in cures of illness, showing His control over that illness, then it must follow that God can prevent the illness to begin with.

Response: There used to be a book out that was popular among entrepreneurs called "Lazy Man's Way To Riches". I believe the author's name was Joe Carbo. For some people, prayer is thought of as "Lazy Man's Way To Cures, Fixes, Or Whatever Else You Want And Need." The facts are that prayer does not always bring a cure. Prayer has never kept anyone alive forever in the body that we know of. Prayer has never been a cure-all for old age and the infirmity that old age brings with it. If we think prayer brings with it cures and fixes then the longer we are alive the greater our power of prayer can get to offset our getting older and dying. However, prayer is not about getting a fix for what ails us. I am not saying God does not cure illnesses as a result of prayer because He does cure illnesses as a result of prayer. However, to say God can stop the illness is to deny the power of satanic evil that brings the illness in the first place. It is Satan who is the enemy, not God. It is Satan who brings the curses of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and aging leading to death. We must remember that as much as we want to blame God for the darkness of life by not preventing the darkness, God has provided us a victory over the darkness. God has provided us an eternal victory over every illness, misfortune, and pain we can ever experience. Our victory over death and over all the sicknesses and ills of life comes when we die and see Christ face to face.

Now for some people, eternal fun and happiness with no suffering in Heaven is not enough. For some people, they want the cure, the fix, the end of the problem in the here and now. The painful truth is that even if you get one cure, one fix, one healing now, eventually you will die anyway. Sort of a doomed existence, isn't it? Yes, this life is a doomed existence. However, God provided us an eternal escape after we end this existence. Praise God for His Son who brought us everlasting life.

Issue: Doesn't God, pardon the phrase, stand idly by and let illness happen? Why should I not be angry with him for letting the illness happen?

Response: God does not stand idly by and let illness happen. God stands with open arms of love, forgiveness, and eternal life if you are willing to surrender your life to Him. In the concept of God standing idly by, person's forget what God has done in offering Himself as His Son as an atonement for us. If God was truly standing idly by, He would let us live in the torment and suffering we live in forever in our body. Instead, God is the great lake of living water from which each of us can freely drink every day. In addition, God is more glorified by a person who receives no healing and keeps the faith than by a person who receives healing because they expected God to heal them. God's work is more glorified by maintaining our faith in hardship than He is by our saying "Thank you" when He gives us what we think we want and need. The road of the Christian faith is a tough road. It separates the adults from the children. The children in the faith want God to deliver the goods when the child prays for it (demands it) or the child walks away pouting. The adults in the Christian faith have seen the glory of God hanging upon the Cross, and to the adults, the forgiveness of their act of crucifying Christ overcomes and overwhelms all those childish emotions dealing with getting that healing or receiving that cure. The adults in the Christian faith don't care that much about getting a cure in this life because they have seen the glory of heaven in Christ's eyes and these adults know there is an eternal cure just ahead.

Issue: In a work environment as a supervisor, if we take credit for the good that happens under our responsibilities we also must take credit for the bad that happens in that work environment. Isn't God willing to take credit for both the good and the bad that happens to us in this life?

Response: In your workplace, if your emphasis is upon taking the credit, good or bad, your emphasis is upon yourself instead of your subordinates. In any kind of supervisory role, the most effective supervisor is one who effectively delegates the responsibility downward in the organization without any regard for getting credit. Management studies have shown, the best and most effective supervisors are those persons who get others to be as responsible as is the supervisor, rather than getting the employees to be dependent upon the supervisory chain of command. In coming to earth in the form of Christ, God has been trying to get us to be responsible and live according to His will. Obviously, Satan has another agenda. Satan's agenda for our life is the total disregard for Christ and God's laws and will.

Issue: God, glory, and responsibility. How can I give God all the glory when he refuses to take any of the responsibility? "

Response: You have things twisted around here. God is given glory only when YOU take responsibility. When you try to give the responsibility over to God you can then blame God for all kinds of things gone wrong, done wrong, thought wrong, invented wrong, or things not done by God that you want done. However, God is not the one responsible. You are the one responsible in this life. We are in a battle in which all of us are going to die. If we blame God for the pain, suffering, and adversity of our life or the lack of healing we want in our life then we will never glorify God. God gave laws for you to follow for your benefit and your good. God gave truth for your benefit and your good. God gave His Son for your benefit and your good. It is your responsibility to observe, use, implement, believe, trust, obey, and remain faithful in spite of every hardship…even the hardship of sickness, disease, and death. As far as God is concerned, He could care less about the glory given by your mouth. God wants glory from you by the kind of person you are and by the kind of acts you do for Him in spite of illness, death, and disease.

I know you want an easier truth. We all want an easier way than the way of pain we are on, but the tougher way of Christ leads to peace in our heart. The tougher way of Christ leads to moments of joy. The tougher way of Christ leads to our living with His love and tenderness in our heart. His way is the way our spirit can soar.

Humbly Sent In Christ's Love And Grace,

Patrick

This story article appeared in January 2003 on Shepherd's Care Ministries web site at http://www.findthepower.com 

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018