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“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

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Why Do Bad Things Keep Happening?

March 18, 2014

Well - it’s been a long time.

A really long time.

I’ve been asking the title question for most of that time - why do bad things keep happening?

When things got to a point where I actually felt a little bit like getting out of a really depressed state, I started to read a book that I’d previously used for reference - The Gospel According To Job by Mike Mason.  The introduction has some lines that really hit me - like this is where I am.

A few years ago I went through a difficult time. Never mind what the problem was. It was nothing compared to the trials of Job. In fact, it was nothing at all compared to the sufferings of many of my neighbors right there on the quiet street where I lived. But pain is pain, and suffice it to say that my pain was enough to drive me to my knees, totally defeated, half-crazy at times, and crying out for relief. Month after month the battles raged on, thick, dark, agonizing. I prayed, but somehow prayer did not “work.

We can have faith, yes; but in itself faith will not change anything. Neither faith, nor any other good thing that a person might have or do, can actually lift the cloud, move the mountain, or bring about an end to the problem. Only the Lord Himself can do that, and when He does, as Exodus 6:6 puts it, “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke.” How will we know? Simply because nothing and no one else could possibly have done it. In this kind of crucible, therefore, we come to a new understanding of what it means to be saved, what it means to be snatched away from the brink of destruction. Here we get down to the bedrock of the gospel.

My issues weren’t a few years ago - they started a few months ago - and are ongoing.
And yes - a whole lot of people have bigger problems -
but I still felt totally blind-sided - unprepared - and totally defeated.
It was like life may as well be over.

But - let’s back up and fill in the details.

Like Mike Mason says in The Gospel According To Job - many others have problems far worse than what I’ve been having.  Many probably wish this was all they had to deal with - because theirs are so much worse.

But - when it happens to us - when there seems to be nothing at all that we can do about it - you just wish that life would end so all of this would end as well.

What made it even worse was that all this time I thought I was doing what God wanted with my life.  So why all of this?

There is - of course - a reason.

And - of course - there is a way to deal with it.

But - we need to be in the right place (with God) for that to happen.

Needless to say - I wasn’t.
Everything appeared to be such a disaster that I forgot everything I “knew”.

Satan kept pushing - and things kept getting worse.

But - as my senior pastor told me the other day - the danger for Satan is that he will push too hard - and then will end up losing.  I pray that’s the case now.  He did go too far.  I don’t know what the end is going to be.  But - I see now - looking back - that I was actually being prepared for something yet to come.

I’m going to go though that - with the hope that it will help someone reading it to deal with their disasters as well.

Here we go - with things that I should have remembered / considered - but didn’t:

The reality is - we are all going to die - in this world.
The monsters aren’t out to kill us here - that’s going to happen anyway.
No - the monsters want us for eternity -
they want our souls forever.

Those are the real monsters -
Satan and his minions.

And the real Father who can and will protect us -
that would be God.

February 2014 - maybe 2 weeks later - I learn for the first time that my marriage is in trouble.  That was really devastating.

To give an idea of how I was feeling - I modified the footprints prayer.  The original is on the left with my version on the right.

The Footprints Prayer

One night I had a dream...

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, there was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, "My  child,  
Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?

Job 38:3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.

Job 40:2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Not a good place to be at all.

Sticking the words from Job into this context wasn’t meant to be - but it’s how I felt.

Sticking Jesus’ words into this context is even more wrong - but it’s how I felt.

At some point - I remembered the Little Replicas of God article - probably because Hachi pretty much lays near me when I’m at home now.  Anyway - with a little bit of a reminder of what I already knew (but wasn’t / didn’t want to realize) - that was enough of a spark that I knew I had to do something to get out of this.

Since then -

As of now -

I still don’t know the ending.  I don’t even know a lot of the stuff in the middle.

But - I have learned at least a couple things.

First - that support from the Christian community is critical.  The following comes from 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare by c. E. Arnold -

Much spiritual vulnerability comes from being detached from the body of Christ. The Book of Acts is not only the story of the spread of the gospel, but a story about the development of Christian communities. It was not enough for the apostle Paul simply to proclaim the gospel in a new area. He worked diligently to bring the new believers together into communities that met regularly for worship, teaching, fellowship, and prayer. In each of his letters, he evaluates how these communities are doing on the basis of the way they are tangibly expressing love for one another.

The message and the community go hand in hand. When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit not only unites the person to Christ, but also to other Christians. Believers need each other as they grow to maturity.

There are not many themes in the New Testament about which more is said than community. Yet it appears that there is less community now in the church than at any other time in its history.

Being meaningfully attached to the body of Christ involves much more than attending a big celebration each Sunday morning or Saturday evening. It means meeting weekly (or more often) with a small group of believers or a spiritual mentor, studying the Scriptures, relating the Word to daily struggles, sharing intimately with one another, and praying earnestly for one another. It means having a “family” that cares for you and is always there for you.

The community at my church has certainly provided that.  I couldn’t have done this without them.

This experience reminds me of a story I’d heard before.  Here’s one version of it - God will save me -

God Will Save Me

A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.

A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”

The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”

As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”

The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”

The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.

A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, "Grab my hand and I will pull you up!" But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”

Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.

When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”

And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”

I suspect now that if I was to closely examine the footprints in the sand - there would be a bunch of barely visible footprints around God’s as well - from all the members of the community of people who have been supporting me.  And - they were probably there all along - waiting until I’d choose to ask for help.

The other thing I think / hope I’m learning -

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Isn’t a criticism of me - it’s encouragement for me to remember what I think I already know - and what I think I should have learned from all the events above -

Namely that what God said in Jeremiah 29:10-14 really is true -

Jer 29:10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

One of the people in the class told me when they learned it’s going on hiatus for a while -

You’re not the Good Shepherd - so it’s OK if you’re not perfect.  The sheep should nudge the shepherd sometimes.

Or something close to that.

And so -

I’ve returned to the men’s group
I’ll keep going to the counselor
I’ll let my 2 close friends continue to hold me accountable and encourage me
I will soon resume the class

and will continue to pray that I will learn the second lesson that I need to learn -
from one of my favorite books in the Bible -
one for which I even wrote (and apparently didn’t remember the message) - a series of articles called LORD, how long do I have to call out for help?  Why don’t you listen to me?
Habakuk 3:17-19 -

Hab 3:17 Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

Hab 3:18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

If this page made it to the site - it’s because my wife was OK with me doing that.  I wouldn’t put it up otherwise.

I pray that I will learn the lessons.

I pray that I realize it really is up to God how it all turns out -

and I pray that no matter what -
I realize He really does mean it to be good -
whether I think so or not -
because - after all - He’s God - not me.

How about you?  If there’s any lessons / hope / encouragement -
then all I can say is -
Thank you God.