The Bible is full of stories of bad things happening to God's children. Naomi went to Moab to escape a famine in Israel but lost her husband and two sons there. She came back to her own country with nothing but a Moabite daughter-in-law. The prodigal son took his inheritance and spent it all, then when famine came it stripped him of even the ability to survive. David waited for his kingship for 13 years, living like a nomadic refugee in deserts, caves, and other people's fields with his entourage of people who depended on him - wives, children, and army of warriors.
I don't know about you, but when something bad happens to me, my mind begins to scream: "What did you do wrong??"
"How did you offend God??"
"What did you do to get out of God's grace?"
One time I got a parking ticket in Washington D.C. Immediately, I'd declare that this happened because I was a week late on paying my tithes. The next day, I'd mail my tithe check out. Our church secretary was amused when she got my check and explanation. She said, "You are soooo cute!"
For years, if anything bad happened to me, my mother would tell me, "You need to repent!!!"
"Of what?" I'd ask.
"I don't know. Just start repenting and you'll find plenty of things to repent of."
I'd go for a walk and twist my ankle, come home repenting of a million things that I can think of or imagine....hoping to placate God in his anger against me.
Do any of you do this?
If only God was this easy to figure out.
Christianity has taught me to stereotype God: "I do something bad - God responds by sending me trouble. I repent of my sins - God responds by alleviating my pain."
is a widely held but fixed
and oversimplified image
of a particular type of person or thing.
A stereotype is conventional and formulaic.
It conforms to a set image or type.
Christianity totally understands the concept of stereotypes.
It says, "This is the way a Christian is..."
"This is NOT the way a Christian is..."
"This is the way God is..."
"This is NOT the way God is..."
Truth is, we know nothing about God except for what He reveals to us personally through desperate seeking. When trouble comes, when lack comes, these things produce in us a desperate insecurity. Lack creates desire; a growing desperation to connect with God once again. When you experience lack, you have a heightened need for God!
Your lack could be a plethora of things you're lacking, from finances, to health, to companionship, to happiness. In your insecurity, in your pain, in your loneliness, you don't need religious friends insinuating:
"You are reaping the wages of your sin..."
"You must have offended God in some way..."
"This is what happens when you neglect ___"
These words come from the mentality of those who are under the law. If you violate the law, the law will punish you.
Christianity oftentimes confuse the Law with God.
However, Jesus has paid in full the debt owed to the law. Romans 8:2 says, "...Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death"!!!
We need to take this verse literally!!
So no more! No more stereotyping God as the tax collector for the Law! His Son has already paid all of your past, present, and future debts! Your lifetime supply of debts! What you need is to do instead, is to have no awareness of debt-keeping but to hear the voice of the Father speaking a fresh revelation of Truth to you. Today.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
This verse will never quite fit into our everyday reality unless we change our concept of one word: "good." When bad things happen to us, we want to quote this scripture to reaffirm our faith in the God who takes care of us. In essence we are saying, "This situation may be bad, but I'm trusting God to turn it around into a good situation eventually."
The question that needs to be asked is: "Good for whom???"
We like to think of "good" as that which makes me happy, that which is pleasant in my life, that which makes me look good, that which blesses me and my loved ones.
But a deeper look into the Greek reveals a totally different meaning.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God..."Romans 8:28
"Good" is "agathos", which means "benefit, valuable or virtuous."
A pleasant, delightful, and joyous existence doesn't always produce the most benefit, value or virtue. It's undeniable but true: sometimes the most "good" comes out of the most brutal experiences.
God is looking to bring benefit, value, and virtue to humanity and His kingdom, not necessarily to you. Jesus was beaten to ribbons and crucified, bringing good to the all of mankind and God's Kingdom, but bringing Him no personal benefit.
Naomi lost a husband and two sons and a daughter-in-law, but she brought back a Moabite woman who would eventually contribute to the royal lineage that brought forth King David...and King Jesus.
The greatest personal benefit that you get for suffering is this: it's proof that God truly loves you. It's proof that God sees you as a son, as His own, as a precious possession.
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
"Receiveth" actually means in Greek, "delight in, is close to, acknowledges as one's own."
Hebrews 12:6 loosely translates as this: "For whom the Lord loves, he trains, educates, and disciplines. Every son whom the Lord delights in, draws in close, and acknowledges as his own, He flogs, whips, and plagues with calamity and misfortune, all sent by the Lord to discipline..."
How do you know God claims you as His own? How do you know you are truly a child of God? How do you know that you are truly special in God's eyes?
You know by the things you are called to suffer. He lines up chastenings and scourgings for you. He disciplines you with troubles, rejections, loneliness, and discouragements. He plagues you with endless problems, attacks, and pressure. He's doing this not because He's a sadist. He's not doing this to punish you for past, present, or potential future failures. No, no, no.
God looks at discipline like a steering wheel. He uses it to change the way you think. He uses it to guide you closer into His perception. He loves you, the adopted son, and He desires that you think like Him. So He sends you scourgings...
Prayer: Father, you ways are indeed higher than my ways. Lord, when I don't understand your ways, please help me to trust in you. I love you Lord, and I thank you that I am your son. I thank you that my struggles are proof that you love me. I thank you that you are changing my mind so I can evolve into the mind of Christ. Your love and discipline I will never reject. Teach me your ways, O Lord.