Without exception, every Pinnacle Forum Partner I’ve gotten to know reasonably well has a story or stories of loss.
Relationship failures. Painful betrayals. Business failures. Crushing disappointments. Financial failures. Health failures. Death.
Loss. Sometimes very grievous loss.
The question “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” is an age-old one, often wielded as a weapon against considering the truth claims of Christ.
“Why doesn’t God protect the five year-old girl from sexual abuse?” “Where was God when the 28 year-old mother of three young children was struck down with breast cancer?” “Why would a loving God let 200,000 people die in a tsunami?”
Tough questions for sure, questions that trite religious bromides don’t answer.
Yet it should be clear to us that loss and suffering are a normal part of life in a fallen, broken, sinful world. Who escapes loss and suffering? No one I know.
Ultimately, how we wrestle with these questions reveals our view of
God. Do we believe that He is love, good, merciful, long-suffering? Do we believe He walks through our pain with us? Do we believe He wants our best? Do we really, really, really believe this?
What’s more, do we trust in the exhortation of Rom. 8:28, that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose?
Do we really, really trust this to be true?
About a year ago I wrote out a message to myself that I taped to the mirror in my bathroom. I admit there are times I don’t live by it very well; indeed, sometimes I fail miserably, which is why I placed it there, as a daily reminder of the choices I will face.
It says, “In all matters our ultimate prayer should be that God take whatever circumstances we face and use those to conform us to the image of Christ, for to the degree we are conformed to Christ’s image, to that degree we will glorify Him and enjoy the peace that passes understanding and the abundant life He promised.”
Because on the heels of Rom. 8:29 Paul wrote that we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is central to our highest calling. We are called to die to self and become increasingly Christ-like.
So the question is, when we face the inevitable grievous loss, painful betrayal, debilitating suffering, crushing failure, or demoralizing disappointment, do we turn this over to God to use to conform us to the image of Christ? Put a different way, do we become bitter or better?
Jesus warned His disciples in John 16:33 that they would suffer trials and tribulation in this world. We must not interpret this to mean that we should live morosely or with resignation, fatalistically waiting for the next shoe to drop. Because when Jesus concluded his warning with the exhortation, “but take heart (or be of good courage), for I have overcome the world,” He gave us a remarkable promise.
We in Him and He in us means that, even as we grieve and hurt in response to the inevitable losses of life, we can live above those losses in genuine joy and unvarnished victory that is not predicated on our circumstances but is grounded on His life in us. This is not natural, but then, that’s the point. We’re called to live supernaturally through Christ in us.
Bitter or better? How we view God and whether or not we allow Him to conform us to the image of Christ will dictate which path we walk.
Would you like to unpack this with me? Then I look forward to corresponding with you.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.