In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the death toll continued to rise. A friend wrote recently of wondering how to have faith in GOD in such instances. How do we believe that GOD cares for us when something bad happens to us, to a loved one, to others?
It’s a big question and deserves a bigger answer than I can give. Many people have written books on the subject and countless pastors have preached sermons on the subject (especially at funerals); and still we ask “How do we believe in a GOD who allows these things to happen?” or “Why did GOD allow this to happen if HE’s so powerful?”
I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I believe GOD very much cares about what happens. HE created us and the universe of which we are a part. HE created us for companionship with HIM but didn’t want us to be robots, operating out of some pre-set program. HE gave us free will….and HE knew full well where that was going to lead. According to the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible, the first man and woman disobeyed GOD’s instructions and sin entered a once perfect paradise. Sin gave way to bad things….bad decisions, bad behaviors, bad weather. The once perfect world was a fallen world….and bad things happened and are still happening.
Further on in the book of Genesis, a young man named Joseph was sold in to slavery by his brothers. Somehow Joseph became the most trusted slave of his owner, Potifar. Potifar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but he fled from her seductions; the wife reported it as an assault by Joseph. Joseph wound up in prison and he had done nothing to deserve that. While in prison he met a couple of men who served Pharaoh These men had dreams which Joseph was able, through GOD’s leading, to interpret. One of the men was killed, the other, Pharaoh’s cupbearer, was returned to Pharaoh’s service. Eventually, Pharaoh himself had a dream and the cupbearer remembered Joseph, who was called to interpret the dream. He did so successfully, speaking of 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine. And almost immediately, the former slave who had been imprisoned became second only to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt.
Fast forward to the 7 years of famine….Joseph’s brothers come to buy food for their families, but do not recognize him as their long lost brother. Eventually all is revealed and Joseph had this to say:
“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Genesis 45:4b-7 (NIV)
(You can read the whole story of Joseph here (start with Chapter 37 and read through 47): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+37&version=NIV )
In this case, GOD allowed something to happen in order to save people’s lives. I’m sure it didn’t look very rosy to Joseph as he began his life of servitude, or when he was falsely accused, or when he sat in that prison cell. But Joseph met people, he made connections that would have an extraordinary impact on the outcome of his life and the lives of others.
And so it is in our lives and the lives of others…..we just don’t know the answer to “Why?” But we can know that GOD can take what looks like a miserable situation and use it for something good. Faith doesn’t mean that I see what’s coming; it means I believe that what’s coming is good even when it’s not looking good. I believe that GOD, the same GOD who created the world, still wants what’s best for HIS kids. I believe that GOD still sends people ahead to prepare a path for others.
A Jew (his name remains anonymous) hiding from Nazi persecution in Cologne, Germany, during World War II, scratched these words on the cellar walls of his hiding place:
“I believe in the sun,
even when it is not shining.
I believe in love,
even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God,
even when there is silence.”
And I believe that something good will come out of horrendous circumstances….it might take many years, but it WILL happen!