Today I’ll give one thought for an age-old question: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? This is definitely not the only answer, but it is possibly one of many.
A few weeks ago a girlfriend and I got together over coffee. This was a real treat; between both of us we have a handful of toddlers/preschoolers, so uninterrupted time is hard to come by. I’m sure you stay-at-home moms can relate. You may even be hiding in a bathroom right now trying to catch a five-minute breather from the little crazy people that have taken over your home, who knows?
But I digress.
Anyway, most of our time was spent catching up on life, but something that she said as we were leaving struck me. While discussing some of the more painful times in her life, she made this statement: “Before I faced the wave of hardship, I thought I knew God. I thought I had faith, thought I believed Him. But my trials showed me that I really didn’t know Him at all. I knew of Him, but my trials brought me to a place of seeing Him for who He truly is.”
Wow. To see Him. Immediately my mind went to the verse that Job spoke to God after his affliction. Let’s first recap what happened to Job: all of his livestock were either stolen or destroyed by fire, all of his children were killed at the same time in a storm, he was covered with painful sores from head to toe, his own wife and closest friends turned on him, and the people in his community mocked him relentlessly.
Work. Family. Health. Relationships. Reputation. All attacked and destroyed. If you’ve been there with any one of these areas, you know the pain and trauma that can result. Maybe you, like Job, have even experienced all or several of them at once. What could God possibly hope to accomplish through this?
I believe, for Job, the answer lies in Job 42:5. This is the statement Job made at the end of the book after all of his distress: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
Job was a righteous man. He sought to honor God in every decision. He wasn’t being punished for disobedience or sin. But God longed for Job to have more: to see Him.
If you can relate to Job and know what it’s like for hardship to bring a newfound intimacy with God, then you are confident that these trials are the greatest gift He could ever give. To see Him, to experience Him, is better than any earthly possession.
For those that are currently facing what may feel like excruciating circumstances, may I encourage you with this? First, God knows how to rescue godly men from trials (2 Peter 2:9), and He will do it in His perfect time. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Second, just like He did in Job’s life, God sometimes allows hardship for our good so that we may know Him, not just know of Him (Hebrews 12:10, 14).
How has hardship brought you to a place of knowing God more intimately? I’d love to hear your experiences.