Who’s To Blame? Is there an answer?

A friend of mine and fellow pastor has had a very rough year. His wife has had health issues most of her life, and then last year was diagnosed with cancer. Treatments went well, and then infections set in after surgery.  He was accused of untrue things by some of his church board members and went through a church split. He has had health problems of his own, and his wife had been hospitalized and required surgery for health complications in addition to her cancer. Then, just last week, his mother was diognosed with inoperable and terminal cancer as well. 

How is it that these things happen? It seems that Christians are constantly answering or seeking to answer the seemingly eternal question of, “why do bad things happen to good people”.  While this can be a broad discussion of it’s own, I want us to consider a narrow target thought on this issue.

In a recent discussion about these circumstances, I wrote a letter to a fellow pastor seeking some advise. When asking about this gentlman’s circumstances, one fellow pastor wrote, “…clearly (he) has been under attack for a very long time”. I wondered. Was this an attack by the enemy, or were these simply circumstances that were permitted to happen because we live in a fallen sinful world in constant (physical and moral) decay? More to the point, how do we tell the difference?

Here’s what I wrote, and I ask you to ponder the same questions and reply:

How can you say with certainty that these events are attacks from the enemy? And perhaps the unanswerable question: How do we draw the line/see the line between circumstantial events that come about because we live in a fallen world (illness, disease, ‘natural’ disasters etc), and a persecution that has its source in Satan?

But how can I, you, or anyone be certain that what trials and tribulations we are going through are brought by Satan as an enemy attack? Can’t we overstep ourselves by saying, “this is an attack by the enemy” the first time something happens unexpectedly?
I once counseled a woman that was dead-set on the fact that Satan was manipulating the red lights to make her late for homegroup and church every week. She was convinced it was an attack by the enemy, and that it had nothing to do with the fact that she has three children under 10, and that she simply did not give herself enough time to get ready.
I don’t know if I’m hedging because of lack of understanding or lack of faith, I don’t think so in either case…, but as a Christian I feel that we tend to take a narrow look at ‘when bad things happen to good people’. I feel like our faith compass points to one of two poles: Action of God, or action of Satan. I guess my question is this; is there something in between? Can things happen just because they happen in the process of this fallen world?

Earthquakes. What do we call them; acts of God, because it is nature “doing her thing’’, and man really has no full explanation for it. Tornados, floods, disease etc. From a secular point of view, anything that man cannot fully explain or control we tend to call ‘acts of God’. From a Christian point of view, I think we are less likely to do that. Cases in point would be John Hagee and his blaming Katrina on God’s retribution against a sinful New Orleans, Pat Robertson sourcing the earthquake in Haiti to God as an act of retribution for their sin, or even the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Jerry Falwell saying that the terrorist acts of  9/11/2001 were God taking action against a sinful America. Evangelicals, most of us included, seemed to run as fast as we could to distance ourselves from such a blanket statement on both accounts, that the wind created by all the evangelicals running as quickly as they could to distance themselves from Hagee and Robertson et al may have created a hurricane of its own! In other words, we tend to, in cases such as this, get behind these acts as being natural acts of a fallen world, decaying earth and sin simply having its way on nature and man. We simply describe them as being acts of nature in a world that is no longer perfect, a world that is impacted by sin, falling apart, and that sometimes man simply gets in the path of those actions. After all, were not Christians killed in those acts as well?

Please understand that I am not making this argument personal, this is just a young man trying to align his theology with real world events and in all sincerity seeking wisdom from someone whom I greatly admire. But why in a case such as (a man whom we know), are we willing to so quickly cry “Satan!” when the attacks are against a Godly man, and just as quick or more quickly to say in cases such as Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti “this is not God acting out against man, this is just the result of sin being present in this fallen world” – when if anything it would seem highly more likely that Hagee and Robertson are more likely to be correct? Does it not make more sense that God would have retribution against these sinful, lustful, hedonistic and pagan idolatrous people?

I’m not saying Hagee, Robertson, Wright and Falwell are right. Not even close. I’m not saying everyone in particular is 100% wrong (well, maybe the Rev. Wright…). Maybe you are all right, and maybe you are all wrong. Are we saying then that it just comes down to the ‘gut’? is it simply a matter of spiritual discernment? Obviously we know (some) circumstances very well, and I’ll tell you, my heart just aches when I read (some) stories. …
Why are we so quick to run from the possibility of 9/11, Katrina, the Haiti earthquake etc as being acts of God punishing sinful man, and equally quick to blame Satan for egregious acts in the lives of faithful men? I can see where being to quick to judge things in the manner of Hagee, Robertson, Wright and Falwell would quickly see you branded as, or even turn us into another Westboro Baptists Church! Never want to go there.
Is it wrong for me to ponder such things?

Do we as evangelicals get so focused on grace and explaining God’s love for people that we do not warn them enough of the possibility of His wrath being poured out on a sinful man?

Is there an answer? Probably not. Just exercising my faith and understanding.

2 thoughts on “Who’s To Blame? Is there an answer?

  1. As i read this blog I find myself in Job.The suffering of the righteous is the central theme being discussed.Since the question of suffering as it relates to righteous living, seems to be repeated in every generation.This book seems to offer insights to all who read it.The question to me is “Why do the righteous suffer.”,Job being the case in point. A rich man,God fearing (1:1-5) subjected to the loss of everything, family, wealth,health,and all he possessed. Yet through all this he maintains his devotion to God. But what I glean through this is that he never renounces God and maintains his integrity. Gods ways are inscrutable, the purposes of God are beyond our comprehension. But again God through His Spirit will at times reveal His will to His body as He deems correct.AS i see it Gods agape love is what I want to focus on as you pointed out to me in the fruit of the Spirit,the most important thing to me is WALKING IN THAT LOVE!!Learning Gods word and applying that knowledge in my life.So as I have found not only truth but a love worth living for.The rain falls on the good as well as the bad,but who is the prince of the earth,whose charge rules the earth at this time.Did not Jesus take back the keys to the kingdom and place them in every believers hand? Don’t we as believers have those keys(THE WORD OF GOD),So the more we study to show ourselves approved and speak His truth, His words,and seek direction from His Spirit,we become the instrument He can mold and direct.I know that as I continue to keep my focus on Gods word(Jesus)He reveals that to me He desires me to know.I think back to that night in our prayer group when in my zealousness to push the word, I stepped out on my own and squelched the Spirit.What a great moment occurred that early morning to awake and be corrected by the Lord,yes He loves us and knows our heart and how to correct us through His Love.I believe that Know man can be 100% all the time and when we see error or what we believe to be error then set out to correct that in Love and word.It is never to late to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness,transgressions we will commit,But He is ready to forgive,are we.The world or the Spirit, we choose!I chose the Spirit,now I begin the road to truth.The first commandment is to love God and know what he says will come to fruition.Yes there is an answer,seek and you will find….I believe that Satan is behind every evil act and like the roaring lion he is seeking those he can devour, some of our mistakes are we judge through our carnal mind,I believe that is why we must renew our mind in and through the word.God Has told us in His word what to expect in this carnal world and that is why we read and study. I see Gods judgement has not been cast yet,but we try to bring fear into a world by missing Gods word and interpreting it by our view,Yes my duty is to preach the word unto the world.His job is to judge the world.His word will not return void. So my friend I hope that this will open some thought to reveal some of the quandary we all face. God is GREAT and He may lift His Blessing on anyone or any place He so desires too.I see that happening to the USA,whether I’m right or wrong only He truly Knows.So ponder away but keep your faith and trust.

  2. As I reread this blog,The Lord awakened in me this.
    “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22)

    Jesus did all of His miracles as a man, not as God. Let that sink in. This is a profound truth that has major implications for you and me. It changes everything.

    Revelations 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” This is the powerful truth that can be applied now,today.
    Jesus said He is the beginning and the end and when you read Jn.1:1 you see that He is the word which means we start at the beginning with the word (Jesus). So this is the first step in knowing Gods will. Colossians 1:23, says ” Continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you (are learning) have heard.” The only way the devil can defeat us is through pressuring us to doubt. Do not disregard the word, it is life to those who find it. Every challenge that the devil brings is to defeat your thoughts on Gods word (Jesus), so settle in on Gods word by prayer and supplication and stay with His word forever.
    Jesus say He is the beginning and the end, so no matter what man or the devil say really doesn’t matter, doctors or pastors are not the last word. The last word is what God says and Jesus has done. Remember this: You and I are what the WORD says we are, so search the scriptures to find who you are in Christ Jesus and the promises that are ours. For the word says we have life in Christ. Hallelujah, Amen, Praise God!! We have the word and the breakthrough is coming; settle ourselves on Him and be assured He is the last word.
    Pastor Bill Johnson writes: “Jesus could not heal the sick. Neither could He deliver the tormented from demons or raise the dead. To believe otherwise is to ignore what Jesus said about Himself, and more importantly, to miss the purpose of His self-imposed restriction to live as a man.

    Jesus said of Himself: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (John 5:19-20).” In the Greek language the word ‘nothing’ has a unique meaning — it means NOTHING. Just like it does in English! He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!

    While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He was redeemed. He made that point over and over again. Jesus became the model for all who would embrace the invitation to invade the impossible in His name. He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God… not as God.

    If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if He did them as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle. Recapturing this simple truth changes everything… and makes possible a full restoration of the ministry of Jesus in His Church. “[1]

    Jesus said you and I will do even greater works than He did. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12-13)

    The question for each of us is, “How dependent and obedient to the Holy Spirit are we so we can experience this same power?”

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