When Bad Things Happen

14 and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 16 While he was still speaking…17 While he was still speaking…18 While he was still speaking

Job 1:14-18

The story of Job is a very well known story. It’s a story about faith, testing and the power of God. It’s a story that shows that nothing can happens to us without God’s knowledge or approval during troubling times. But what about other situations? Bad things happening can’t always mean we are being tested. This is true and we will find other situations in the Bible proving this but one thing is common in all of the situations and that is God is in control.

We see with Job that he was undergoing a test of faith. The wager between Satan and God was whether Job would curse God or not in adversity as we see in verse 11. Job’s character and his health came under the attack of Satan. Job lost his family (except his wife), his servants and his livestock. As if this wasn’t enough, he became sick with boils from his feet to his head. He even had to undergo the criticism of friends who were supposed to be comforting him but instead accused him of sinning. Yet he never cursed God. In the end Job’s health was restored and God gave him more than he had before.

We see in Matthew 14:22-24 the disciples being given instructions by Jesus to take a boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of the waters while Jesus stayed back and prayed. While following Jesus instructions, they hit a storm:

22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

The story continues with the disciples out in the boat and Jesus walking on the water towards them in the fourth watch of the night (between 3:00am and 6:00am) to help them. This means that the disciples were battling this storm for hours, trying to make it to where Jesus directed them to go. The storm was so bad and their fatigue so great, both spiritually and physically, that Jesus had to come out and rescue them and get them to their destination. Today I heard a woman on the radio talking about this and she gave a great thought about this situation. She said “These men were just doing their job. They weren’t doing anything wrong. It’s just a part of the job hazard and it’s a hazard of life that there are storms, that there is pain, that there is trouble from the hand of the enemy.” Sometimes during different periods of our life, we aren’t doing anything wrong when bad things happen. It’s just a hazard of life and life happens. But it is a great opportunity to put our faith in God into action. This story should also give us hope in knowing that even when we are doing what Jesus calls us to do and storms happen, if we continue rowing and praying and calling out to God, He will hear us, rescue us and get us to our destination.

The prophet Jeremiah was chosen by God, even before he was born, to speak to the nations as we see in Jeremiah 1:5:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah had a tough job to do. He had to speak to the nations (the people) whatever God told him to speak, but God gave him comfort as we see in verses 7-8:

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

In chapter 4, we see where Jeremiah had to go to the people of Israel and bring a strong message…either turn away from your sins and repent or suffer the consequences. Israel had turned away from God, yet again, and was deep into sin and idolatry. Jeremiah was warning the Israelites that disaster was coming to them if they didn’t turn from their sinful ways and repent. In verse 18, Jeremiah makes it clear that it is because of sin that they will suffer the consequences:

“Your own conduct and actions have brought this on you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!”

Sin in our lives brings consequences and when a whole nation sins, many people will suffer the consequences. The Bible is clear about the sins of the flesh and the consequences of it in Galatians 5:19-21:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We must repent and make every effort to turn away from sin in every area of our lives. We must do a heart check on a daily basis to see where we are in our walk. If we find we are struggling with anger, jealousy, lust, etc we must confess it to the Lord and repent, turning away from it. If we have to surrender it over to God several times then that is what we must do until we are healed from it. We are fortunate to have a loving and forgiving God who is patient with us as we work to overcome our difficulties and struggles. However, He knows our hearts and knows when we are bluffing. God cannot be fooled. He will call us out on it and expose it to get our attention if we choose to keep our choice of sinful pleasure and we will suffer the consequences in hopes that we will change our ways.

Sometimes unfortunate things can happen simply to bring glory to God through that person or situation. In John 9:1-5, Jesus and his disciples come upon a blind man. The question was raised about who had sinned that cause this man to be blind, his parents or the man. Jesus’ answer is clear:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

I’ve known people who loved the Lord, obeyed His Word and still became sick to the point of being bed ridden, yet they continued living with such faith and love for the Lord that God used them in a powerful way to bring hope and comfort to others. I’ve known tragedies that have happened in families and out of that tragedy it changed the lives of others and brought them to Christ.

These are but a few reasons why bad things can happen to us. We must be careful not to make a judgement call when we see people suffering. Sometimes we can tell them “you don’t have enough faith” or “you must be sinning” when in fact that isn’t the case at all. We must comfort them and continue leading them back to the scriptures. If they are secretly sinning, God will eventually expose it as he had with many in the Bible, in hopes that they will repent and turn from it.

Take heart in knowing that God is in control. He knows everything that is happening in your life. He is not surprised by it as we are. He always has a plan and a purpose. If you are going through a storm or a tragedy, take this time to get even closer to Him and trust that He will help you, heal you and only wants good for you as we see in Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Whatever you are going through, take this time to be with the Lord. Get into His inner shelter and allow Him to take care of you during your storm. Always remember that no storm lasts forever. It eventually ends and the sun comes out. Your storm will end in time and the sun will shine again. Your grief will ease and your joy will return. Your pain will be healed and you will be able to move freely once again. Cling tightly to your faith and wait for God to rescue you in the storm. Remember, He knows what’s happening. He hasn’t forgotten you.