When God Ordains Hard Things

We know that bad things happen to good people. And good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to bad people. And good things happen to good people. All these happenings are fore-ordained. They’re known ahead of time by God Almighty. He allows all things. All circumstances. All the time.

Matthew 5:45 tells us that our Father in heaven gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. This means that everyone on this earth can plan to have some good days and some bad days. There’s no way around it.

What does it mean that God ordains all things? You ask. What does it mean that he ordains our days?

Ordain: To order or decree by virtue of superior authority. To issue an order. To order or command.

He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts of the Apostles 17:24-28

If you’ve read the story of Job, you know that he lived through one very difficult time. According to the Bible, he had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. Read Job 1:2-3. The Bible doesn’t say specifically how long his troubles lasted, but in the course of one day he lost everything. Literally. His donkeys and oxen were stolen and some of his farmhands were killed. Only one escaped to tell the story. All of his sheep and shepherds were burned in a fire. Only one shepherd escaped to share the news. All of his camels were stolen by raiders, who killed the servants. Only one servant escaped to give a report. Then a powerful storm blew down the house where his children were partying, where they and all the servants died. Only one servant survived to give an account to their parents.

And just when Job was wallowing in grief, he was hit with boils all over his body. He was miserable. He wanted to die. He asked God why he had even been allowed to be born. And his wife suggested that he curse God and die. But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. Job 2:10


His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him–though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:27


How do parents respond when they lose a young child? Because we know that it’s not in the course of natural events for a parent to outlive their child. The heartbreak and disappointment can be crushing. The grief and pain of loss is devastating.

These past two years have brought many deaths and disabilities from a new virus. The pain and suffering have been immense. No population on the earth has been left untouched. How are we to process this event? What does normal even look like anymore? Can we adjust to a new normal that is full of roadblocks?

There are Christians in other lands who are hunted, imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith. They’re living for God, but they’re in the minority in their land. And those hunting them are determined to rid their world of anything godly.

Consider the police officer who accidentally killed someone when she pulled her gun instead of her taser. And then there’s the cop who killed a child when his bullet ricocheted off a wall. These are hard times for these two individuals and their families. And also for the families who lost loved ones. No one is a winner here. The lives of all of these people are changed forever.

Then there are women and girls being trafficked for sex by ungodly people. They’re sold for their bodies to be used against their will. They have no say in the matter. They can’t escape the abuse on their own. They’re held prisoner by unlawful people.

We may wonder why God allows such evil to happen. After all, he is a loving God. Why do bad things happen? We can question God, but he doesn’t always provide the answers we long to hear. We don’t always learn the reason of the whys that we ask. We may never know.

We’ve been given the ability to choose how we live our lives. We can decide to do good or evil. We can chose to treat others with respect or not. We can choose to hurt others and ourselves. We can choose to deny that God exists. We also can choose to walk in step with Him.

If we choose to walk our own path, then our life will reflect those choices and consequences. And we live that life on our own. We live that life without the comfort or strength that only God can give.

If we choose to walk with God, He walks with us through the valleys and mountaintop experiences. He never leaves us. He will give us strength to face each new day, whether that day brings rejoicing or sorrow. Even when days are hard, and there will be hard days, God is with us.

For some, the suffering and struggles may be lifelong. Even if we are Christ followers, we may live hard lives. We aren’t promised an easy, rose colored life.

Oh. We can grovel and complain and moan and groan. We can question God and curse him. We can cry and destroy ourselves. All in the name of suffering. But suppose we stopped and quieted ourselves. Suppose we listened for the still small voice of God. Suppose we reached out to Him at the darkest moments of our lives. And just suppose He brought peace in the midst of suffering. Because it is possible.

Some of the things that you’ve lost in your life, God is not going to bring them back in the exact same way.

Havilah Cunnington

To experience joy in our struggles and difficulties, we must first acknowledge who God is. Everything but God is secondary in our lives. Everything else is secondary. Yes. That’s right. It’s tough to hear, but God must be the priority. Even during times of intense suffering and grief. If we focus on God, we will see that He is supreme. His love is never ending. His compassion knows no boundaries. His mercy is new every morning. His grace is all sufficient. His power is all encompassing. He is the alpha. The omega. The beginning and the end.

So when the thing we have always feared happens to us, we can have peace and quiet and perfect rest in God our Maker and Redeemer.

Injustice

Injustice is an awful thing. It’s cruel. I’d like to say it’s unusual, but it seems to be common practice in today’s world. Do you ever wonder why? It’s been happening since time began. The Bible has many stories where people were treated unfairly. Robbed. Discarded. Bullied. Beaten up. Killed. The list goes on.

Abel’s death at the hand of his brother Cain. Uzziah’s death. Stephen’s death.  Saul’s unrelenting pursuit of David. Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. Three Hebrew men thrown into the fiery furnace. The list goes on.

Injustice is nothing new. But that doesn’t make it right.

The heart of the matter is a heart matter. Sin. Selfish sinful desires. The desire to get even. The burning feed of jealousy. The unending lust for more. The pursuit of having your way, at all costs. The thought that one person is better than another, when all are created equal.

It’s a lesson that we are obviously slow to learn. We keep repeating the same egregious mistakes of generations past. What will it take to undo the sins of our forefathers? When will we learn?

Sin still permeates the hearts of mankind today. What is the price? Oh. It’s heavy. 


What does the Lord require of you? Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8


But let’s consider the injustice that turned the course of history like no other event.

From a human perspective, it was the wrong thing to do. It was evil. It was cruel. It was inhumane. But they did it anyway. What was it they did? You ask. 

They killed an innocent man.

 Oh. He was one of their own. He was the son of a carpenter. He was the firstborn son in a home that got its start amidst a scandal. But he knew his place. His lot in life.

 He realized he was different from the other boys. Perhaps they ridiculed him. Or bullied him. One never knows what kids go through if they don’t talk about it. I’m sure he had many things to ponder as he grew. 

He wasn’t handsome. His looks didn’t make the girls swoon. But he was kind. He learned a trade. He worked hard. He was a noticer. He saw the little things. He listened. He knew things no one had told him. He was wise beyond his years.

He cared for others. He loved unconditionally. He washed the feet of his inner circle. He allowed a woman of ill repute to anoint his feet with expensive perfume. He freed a woman caught in the act of adultery from certain death while others wanted her to receive the punishment the law said she deserved. 

He invited himself to a dishonest tax collector’s home for dinner. He stood silent as one of his own kissed him in betrayal. He rebuked those buying and selling in the sacred temple on the holy day.

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5

He was despised. He was rejected. Oh. He was acquainted with the deepest grief. He was a man of sorrows.

He dared to call himself God, because he was God. Is that a crime? Was it worthy of death?

Were there riots in the streets after his death? Did his followers chant death to Pontius Pilate for allowing an innocent man to die? Was the marketplace ransacked because of the injustice of this one man’s death? Were chariots burned in protest?

But oh. How their world changed when he rose from the dead. I mean. Who does that? Who rises from the dead?

What can I do to avenge his death?

The killing of that innocent man is an injustice. But by his death, my soul was saved. How do I reconcile that? By following his plan. By loving him. By obeying his teaching. By sharing his truth with others. By treating others as I would want to be treated. By becoming like him.