Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
Therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for him.
Truly … you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you.
Isaiah 30: 18-19
When we are weeping, it’s often hard to hear words such as this. We know it’s true, but just getting through the day can seem like an impossible task.
Some of us in Northeast Ohio experienced a life-altering event in the past couple of weeks. To protect the people involved, I won’t get any more specific than that, but for me it again raised the most basic questions we can ask:
What’s the point of life?
Why are we here?
Do we even have a purpose?
Where is God when life goes terribly awry?
We get bent out of shape over the presidential election or who made the College Football Playoff. Are those life-and-death questions? Really?
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” … God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
Gen. 1: 26, 31
When life began, all was right with the world. No politics, no disease, no miscommunication, no death … but something happened. God gave us free will.
And we chose to do our own thing.
Every time we do our own thing, there are consequences. We still haven’t figured that out. The decisions we make in private affect others in public. Always. We haven’t figured that out yet either. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Not true. Never has been, never will be.
Deep in our hearts, we know this. We just won’t admit it.
Because that means we might have to change our way of looking at life and how we live it.
When life turns evil, that’s our fault. Not God’s. The God of the Bible is a God of mercy, not punishment.
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
I frequently see people write that religion is evil, that the world would be better off without religion. John Lennon popularized that theme with his song, “Imagine.” Those who point this out have not read the Bible. The God I worship wants the best for us, even in hard times.
The effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
Isaiah 32: 17
When, God? When will that happen? That’s my question.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
Mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
For the first things have passed away.
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Rev. 21: 4-5
I am ready for this day to come right now. It won’t happen until the “end times,” when the God of the universe says it will. We have no idea whether that time is imminent or 1,000 years from now. Or longer. But I am ready.
It that a morbid thought? I’m not looking to die, but I’m ready to die and be with God in heaven right now. No more suffering, no more pain, no more betrayal, no more screw-ups by me … who wouldn’t want that?
If we had “happily ever after” on Earth, would we need God? What for?
Perhaps God allows pain to give us a reason to turn to Him.
We in the United States don’t have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. That’s why so many immigrants want to come here. If we don’t have a home, there are shelters. Food pantries and soup kitchens abound. We have welfare, which many countries don’t. We don’t know how good we have it here.
And yet our pain is real. Life isn’t always fair. Bad things do happen – to all of us.
When life turns sour, where do we turn?
Alcohol. Drugs. Pornography. Anger. Blame. Things like that.
Are any of those things good? Do they help?
Why do we reject God when we need Him most?
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1: 21
If anyone understands suffering, it’s Job in the Old Testament. He lost his wealth, all of his children and his health. Even his wife said, “Curse God and die.” (Job 1: 9)
Job’s response: “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (Job 1: 10)
In the end, God restored Job’s wealth and gave him a new family (Job 42: 10-17). Sometimes God does this on Earth. But not always.
So, we wait for justice. We wait for “happily ever after.” God has promised that it will come, for those who believe.
A highway shall be there,
And it shall be called the Holy Way;
The unclean shall not travel on it,
But it shall be for God’s people;
No traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing;
Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 35: 8, 10
God wrote it down. He promised. That day will come.
How do we make sure we get on that highway? It’s simple.
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10: 9
That’s it. That’s all it takes.
We don’t have to get right with God first. He will accept you right now, just as you are.
God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
Romans 5: 8
Is this the evil, vindictive God that the world thinks He is? No.
Life isn’t fair, no question about it. Every one of us faces struggles, some of our own doing and some not.
What will you do about it?
We aren’t responsible for our situation; we are responsible for our response to it.
Christmas is coming in three weeks. Again, what’s the point?
God gave us the best present of all, his Son, Jesus. That’s where gift-giving started.
But it’s not a gift unless someone receives it. Have you ever tried to give someone a gift, and he or she rejected it? Some people don’t know how to receive a gift. The giver is left holding the present.
It hurts. Big time.
That’s how God feels when we reject Him.
The gift is offered. All we have to do is accept it.