Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Greater Good

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

-- Matthew 6:34

The death of a family member. An unexpected job loss. A devastating natural disaster.

Who hasn't pondered why God allows tragedies, suffering and injustice? We reason that if he's all-powerful, he should prevent them. But let's consider that God's mysteries extend beyond our superficial human experience and into the immeasurable wonders of his creation. For example, can we comprehend how an awkward caterpillar gorges itself with leaves, spins a cocoon around itself and then emerges weeks later as a beautiful butterfly? And how can a tiny acorn grow into a mighty 80-foot oak?

The principle here is the same. Whether Butterfly2the unexplainable involves a tragedy or God's creation, we must remind ourselves that his ways aren't our ways. Moreover, our human minds are much too limited to grasp the entirety of his greater purposes.

But we're not totally in the dark here. God's word to us--the Bible--gives us several pointers. One is that we live in a flawed world where bad things can (and often do) happen. It was when Adam and Eve disobeyed their Creator in the Garden of Eden that Earth's perfection was spoiled. And it's only four chapters into Genesis that we read about mankind's first murder: a cold-blooded encounter between siblings.

Our own bad choices are another reason for suffering. For example, if someone chooses to drink too much, becomes intoxicated and then gets behind the wheel, tragedy often follows. But that's hardly God's fault. We instead reap the fruits of the foolishness we sow.

These facts are sobering, but the flip side is that we worship a God who specializes in turning bad into good. Consider someone who gets laid off from their job, only to find a much better opportunity in a different city--with higher pay--and in an industry that he or she had never previously considered. This happens all of the time in America. If it weren't for the "tragedy" of unemployment, he or she might have become stuck in a boring, dead-end job with little future. God (as always) know bests!

God also turns suffering into success by using it to discipline and mature us. Are we ever the same after experiencing a major illness or family tragedy? It's through adversity that we draw closer to him and depend on his help and presence. God can even use our suffering as a witness to others. If you're a Christ-follower faced with a God-sized situation, where you place your faith speaks volumes to others.

While suffering, tragedy and injustice are difficult realities of the human experience, our Creator never promised us a pain-free existence. In fact, Jesus even told his disciples to expect troubles in life. But let's take comfort that ours is a Big Picture God--One who sees beyond our limited scope to turn even the greatest tragedies into the greater good.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace," Jesus assures us through John's Gospel. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

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