Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Goodness of God Verses the Tragedies of Life”


This week's blog is submitted by Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church. He is a stroke survivor, and occasionally writes an article for the local newspaper. He permits us to post them, also.
Street & Steeple for September 13, 2019 

“The Goodness of God Verses the Tragedies of Life”
By Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church

Between Hurricane Dorian and mass murderers a lot of people are dealing with tragedy in their lives! Most of us probably believe in a God who is good. That may well be the first thing we were ever taught about God. That’s easy to affirm when things are going our way, like when a healthy child is born to us or when we receive a raise at work or win the Lottery! 

What about, however, when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer or we are treated unfairly or a loved one is killed! How easy, then, is it to declare, ‘God is good?!’ He still is, of course, even when our circumstances don’t seem to confirm it.

My wife, Nancy, and I find ourselves among the world of caregivers and stroke survivors. Stroke is never a good thing and has three different causes. God may, for a reason He probably won’t share with us, cause a stroke to happen. If He does, we are told in scripture, it is for our own good, as hard as that is to understand, or Satan may cause it with God’s allowance. More often a stroke is the result of Adam’s original sin and its penalty, which was that our bodies deteriorate!

In our world, God’s goodness is easy to affirm when I make significant progress toward recovery or Nancy gets an unexpected time to enjoy herself, getting a respite from my 24 /7 need for her care. Not so easy to affirm God’s goodness are times I end up on the floor or Nancy’s back hurts from transferring me or when my physical therapist asks me to do something which I simply can’t do! Just because God is good it does not follow that everything that happens is good of course, as I wrote, a stroke is never a good thing to us.

Also true is that God is unchanging, always good, the church word for that attribute being immutable. Some Christians greet one another by saying, “God is good” and receive the reply, “All the time.” God enables his children to get through every tragic period, even, often turning a bad situation to good! The best example of that we find in the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. Sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph sees them again when they come to him to buy grain due to a world-wide famine. When they recognize him and know he has recognized them, they fear reprisals for what they did to him.

In Genesis 50:20 we find he says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” He does that often, as I relate in the book I’m writing, “Finding Purpose in Pain.” Our world is filled with people suffering their own particular tragedies from Hurricane Dorian and the senseless violence which seems to have overtaken our country!

Should you be suffering your own particular tragedy, I urge you to remember that God is good no matter what your circumstances might tell you! Look for what he may be wanting to teach you by your predicament or what purpose(s) it might be achieving! Those things will help you reconcile the goodness of God with life’s tragedies!

Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church