Thursday, February 9, 2012

Even In The Valley Of The Shadow

I heard someone say to my friends, "God chose to give your daughter a brain tumor, because He knew your faith was strong enough to handle that"...and it made me furious! What a hideous thing to say! So hurtful, and so completely untrue. The Bible says "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:16-17. I believe to the roots of my being that God does not give fatal accidents or terminal diseases. He is the author of perfection. The Fruit of the Spirit, the evidence of His presence, is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. The evidence of His presence is not death, destruction, and heart-broken grief. "All things work together for good"...does not mean that everything that happens, no matter how terrible, is something God thought would be a good idea. It means that, no matter what happens in our lives, God will still be working in our lives for our good, and for His good purposes. It does not mean that terrible, heartbreaking things are some sort of twisted gift that God thinks will be good for us! I do not believe that God chooses death, destruction and disease, anymore than I would believe He was behind the actions of Adolf Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer. We live in a broken world, where disease is more and more common, and where people do terrible things to one another. I saw a video clip the other day of a blind, autistic boy who sings beautiful praise to God. Someone made a comment about God afflicting this boy to show His glory. What a slander against God's character. This boy's mother was on heavy drugs when she was pregnant. God did not afflict this child- his mother did! One of my very favorite incidents in the Bible is when Jesus wept with His friends over the death of their brother. The thing that I love about it is that when He stopped to grieve with Mary and Martha, He was actually on His way to raise their brother Lazarus from the dead...He knew that in just a short time, He would be presenting His friends with their brother resurrected and whole...but He had such compassion for their grief that He stopped to weep with them. This is an important part of my picture of God's character. He knew their grief would soon be turned into joy, but He did not dismiss their grief- he shared it. God is holy, and His defining characteristic is Love. He does not cause evil, or ugliness, or death, or destruction. He has deep compassion for our pain. He weeps with us. He promised that, no matter what happens, He will never leave us or forsake us. His love for us is unshakeable. He grieves over the ugly brokenness of our world. He wept with his friends. He wept over His hardhearted children in Jerusalem. The tears of the Son of God are a powerful testament to the tender, compassionate love He has for each of us. He will walk with us, weep with us, carry us, and help us through even the worst of times, even in the valley of the shadow of death. He will still work for good in our lives, work for His good purposes, no matter what happens. But He never causes evil to happen. He gives us hope when there is no hope, and peace that makes no sense- that is beyond human understanding, and joy in the midst of pain. His gifts are always good, and His love has no end.

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