Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Scattered but Good Come From It!

"...At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles...Therefor those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word." Acts 8:1b and 4

Recently I have heard or read a lot against the idea that good comes from bad situations or that God will use tragedy for something good. The basic argument says that God is good and love and doesn't bring bad into our lives. Honestly, this debate grieves me. I know this is just my thoughts and I'm not stating that I have heard great words straight from God about this idea, but I still feel compelled to share my thoughts on the matter.

God is good. God is love. God does not bring bad things into our lives, because there is nothing bad about God. But the Scriptures clearly shows in the book of Job that God does allow bad things to happen to us. Go read Job 1 before we go any further, paying particular attention to the conversation between the Lord and satan. Did you see it? God asked satan if he had seen Job! Satan didn't come in and say, "hey God! Can I mess with Job's life?" Nope, God directed satan's attention to Job and then said that he could stretch his hand against him, but not take his life. Satan wasted no time, literally as one bearer of bad news was speaking another one would show up. Job's seemingly perfect life was completely destroyed in a matter of moments! And who pointed out this God-fearing man to satan? God did!

The story of Job and all that satan did to him is what always comes to my mind when I hear people try to theorize away the idea that God doesn't use tragedy in our lives to bring about good. In the beginning of Job 1 we learn about all that he was and all that possessed: he was blameless; he feared God and turned from evil; he had seven sons and three daughters; he had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys; he had many servants; and he was greatest of all the people in the east. He had it all! What did he have after satan had done his best to completely destroy the life of Job, even the very essence of who Job was? All his brother and sisters came and gave him money and jewelry; his flocks doubled 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys; and he one again had seven sons and three daughters, who were the most beautiful women of the land and given an inheritance along with their brothers (which didn't happen often during those time).

But God didn't just bless him with much on the other side of satan's destruction. He spoke directly with Job, and even though he was considered blameless before he had wrong thinking of God that needed to be corrected. Read through chapters 38-41, where God corrects Job. If God had spoken these things to Job before he had gone through the suffering he had endured their effect wouldn't have turned Job's heart as they did after his suffering. God used the tragedy for good!

Now, this post started with New Testament verses. I did that on purpose, because I know some will say Job is just a story (which I completely disagree with!) or that that was from the Old Testament and God is different now. The Scripture tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so argument doesn't hold water either. It isn't God who changed, but Jesus's death and resurrection change the nature of our relationship with God. Back to the point. Jesus told the disciples, now apostles, to go out as witnesses to the whole earth (Acts 1:9). Until chapter 8, there is no mention of them leaving Jerusalem to share what God had given them to share. It wasn't until the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of followers by Saul, that anyone left Jerusalem. The "therefor" in verse 4 is in reference to that persecution. Saul was throwing men and women into prison for their faith and the rest were scattering from the city. They went out into Judea and Samaria and shared with others. The first two places Jesus told the apostles to go in chapter 1 were Judea and Samaria, and now because it wasn't safe to remain in Jerusalem, that is exactly what they did. Why did Christianity spread across the world? Persecution. As the followers of God were persecuted,groups would leave and take the message with them. The Pilgrims did that same thing over a 1,000 years later. They were persecuted for their beliefs and they hopped on the Mayflower and came to the New World. They were the first to spread the message of God to what is now America.

I can't stare into the face of the Scriptures and not see that God DOES make good come from evil. God is not evil, but yes, He does use it for good. I can look at the struggles and trials of my own life and see the fruit of good that came from them. I work with children and more times than I can count, God has given me true empathy and words of wisdom to speak into their lives because of those things. Patience with a child who's parents divorced and he was still struggling to cope, even as one teacher told me, "that he should be over it by now." A year when extreme "girl drama" infested the girls in my class and I was able to pull from my own childhood struggles with friends to speak into the situation. The middle school boy, who was so much shorter than everyone else, that I could relate with because at his age I was so much taller than everyone else and was teased as he was. The children who struggles with reading and feel stupid, because so did I. God uses the bad and He makes good come from it, if we let Him!

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