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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Occur?

Photo by Andreas Krappweis

"But when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs . . . ." Hosea 13:6-8a

The other day I was studying Hosea with a friend, and I came across the answer to that well-known question that many of us tend to ask when something bad happens. I wouldn't say this passage in Hosea is the ultimate answer to all of the bad things that occur in life, but I do think a majority of them occur because like Israel, we too forget God. Isn't that how many are saved? They rejected God, forgot about Him, lived for themselves, and then when something bad occurs they are drawn to God, at least that's how it is for most people. And I believe God uses bad situations, as in the passage of Hosea, to draw us back to Him, or even draw us to Him through salvation. It's for our ultimate good. There's a purpose to the pain. God is a jealous God, and if we lose sight of Him, won't He do whatever He can to bring us back to Him?

It's so very true that when things are going well we don't feel the need to pray or read our Bible as much. We begin to let the world start to consume us with things we think can fill us, and then when something bad happens we're reminded that only God can fill us. I'm glad that God has given me a bad situation in life, because it keeps me from forgetting Him and ultimately causing something worse to happen to remind me that God's in control of my life. It reminds me to pray and remember that I need Him, constantly, all the time.

And for those who currently aren't facing a bad situation, whether that be the loss of a job, a family member, or even a sudden health issue, think about your good circumstances in life and take heed of this passage. Remember that when you're full and satisfied things can get dangerous. Continue to praise God, thank Him, read His word, and pray each day. Don't be so full you forget Him and He causes adversity in your life to occur so you can remember Him.

Friday, March 20, 2015

No Regrets

Have you ever regretted something you didn't do in life? Some path you never chose? In college I majored in English, something I had prayed about and felt led to major in- I didn't take my career choice picking lightly. I knew that whatever I chose would be what I would end up doing for quite some time- it would be what I did for most of my life even. I enjoyed English, writing, and literature, and I still do, but towards the end of my degree I started realizing I was drawn to the medical field, anything and everything about it fascinated me. I wanted to learn as much as I could about how the body worked, surgery, etc. I absolutely loved it. And at the same time I knew I could never be a doctor- that wasn't my calling. Neither was being a nurse. But as I became more and more aware of my enjoyment with the medical field, I began to doubt. I doubted if I had actually been sure that God had shown me that English was the right field. I wondered if perhaps I had mistaken my calling. Surely medicine was it? But it was too late. I had finished with a degree in English, and there was no turning back.

One day while I was at a library book sale, I stumbled upon a book on genetics, a topic I love to read about, and I immediately picked it up, feeling waves of regret over not majoring in that field. As I looked at it and inwardly sighed, a woman beside me asked me if I was majoring in Genetics, and I said "no" and explained that I had majored in English, but I'd always loved the medical field and wanted to get a degree in it. Nothing in my voice denoted that I was sorrowful or regretful, yet right away she continued on and said her daughter had majored in Genetics and went on to work in D.C. She went on to say that her daughter regretted it and so did she. The woman told me it was a terrible environment to work in and that I was fortunate I had not majored in it. I was stunned. It's as if she had read my mind. It's as if God had placed her in my path to make me realize that I hadn't made a false move. I had done as God had asked, and I shouldn't have any regrets.

Sometimes the "passions" we have in life are not Godly passions, meaning they're not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but they're not God-given either. God wants us to follow His will. Do I regret not getting a degree in the medical field still? No. Not anymore. That's not the path God wanted me to take. It's great to learn about it, but I don't want to fuel a desire that isn't God-given. I want to quench it. Over the years I've realized that the degree I majored in was God's best for me. I love what I majored in, and I'm glad that's what I got my degree in. Through various circumstances such as the aforementioned, God has revealed to me why He didn't allow me to receive a degree in the medical field, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate God's intervention in my life to show me that what I initially thought I wanted wasn't best.

Are you having any regrets? Take heart in knowing that God knows best.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Is the Holy Spirit Better than Jesus's Physical Presence?

Photo Credit: John Nyberg. Used with permission.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. - John 16:7

I used to wonder why Jesus left us here on earth, proclaiming that it was better for Him to go and leave the Holy Spirit with us. I was dumbfounded. What could be better than Jesus's physical presence? I had always thought how wonderful it would be to have Jesus here on earth still- to be able to speak to Him face to face, to have my questions answered automatically, to not have to wait for an answer to prayer. There would not be much to pray about if the one who could answer your prayers was right there with you- so why did Jesus say it was better for Him to ascend to Heaven? I believe the answer lies here in this passage about the Holy Spirit:

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17

That's just it. The Holy Spirit dwells with us forever- from the time we are born again as Christians til we die- His presence is always with us. The people of the Old Testament weren't as fortunate as we are. The Holy Spirit descended upon few people and for a short period of time in the Old Testament. After Christ died and rose again, He sent us the Holy Spirit to help us in our Christian walk. Not only have we received such an amazing gift, but if Christ were to have stayed here on earth in His physical body, we wouldn't have Him with us as our constant companion 24/7. Jesus was in bodily form, therefore He was unable to be with everyone at once. He stayed in the land of Israel. Think about all those who didn't get to see Jesus who lived in the same time period. Wouldn't that be depressing? Wouldn't our hearts be sad and lonely if we knew Jesus were dwelling in Jerusalem this very day and thousands of miles stood in the way of us going to Him? And even then if we traveled for a week to visit Him, we'd have to come back and do it all over again, constantly. Would we even have the reassurance of seeing Christ if He was wanted just as much by others as by me? No, we would not. And I am glad that Jesus knew best and sent the Holy Spirit. We don't have to worry about crowds drowning out our voice or petition, or wondering if we will ever have the chance to meet Jesus on earth. We have the Holy Spirit to intercede for us and guide throughout this life. And isn't that wonderful?