Dr. Erik Strandness says it’s not just historical facts that...
Why do good Christians die prematurely? Why do evil men sometimes prosper?
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To repeat my much used phrase, the Greek mind says that we should strive for knowledge about God. The Hebrew mind says that we should know God.
It is clear that the dominant Christian position today, whether you are Catholic, liberal, evangelical, charismatic or even Messianic, is the Greek one, the position that puts us first, our needs, our cleverness, our aspirations and desires. We develop systematic theologies, coloured of course by our theological persuasions. We generate hundreds of books every week, on the theme of analysing some aspect of God, or suggesting some new programme or formula for finding self-fulfilment through Biblical principles. Here are some recent titles: What would Jesus eat?; 10 ways every Woman can sparkle; The Millionaire from Nazareth: His Prosperity Secrets for you.
The Hebraic mind says that we should know God. Simple. It’s about relationship, not analysis. God is a living spiritual Being, who just happens to be the Lord of the Universe, not a faceless entity to be tweaked by our analytical tweezers. Let’s face it, how often do we refer to the Holy Spirit as a He, an actual personality, rather than tending to label Him as a kind of impersonal force? Star Wars has a lot to answer for.
Just because God has a personality doesn’t mean that He has to play by our rules. He is, after all, the Creator of the Universe, which sort of exempts Him from human rules of etiquette and acceptable behaviour. Sometimes we should just accept the plain truth, that there are times, for reasons known to Him alone, that God does whatever He wants. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to us, neither does He look favourably at our constant analysing of His actions and motivations.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7)
He is not our chum, our buddy, or our go-to man. He’s not too happy being our last resort when everyone else lets us down or everything else fails. He is the great mystery and paradox, the majestic Person who has the affairs of the whole World in His hand ...
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
... but also the loving and patient Father, willing and able to listen to and answer our prayers, however trivial.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
God is our Big Father and He loves us, indeed He is the model of the perfect father, Our Father in Heaven. And we need to learn to trust Him, totally, implicitly, even when things don’t seem to make sense. Just as a toddler will stare resentfully at his father after the pain of the vaccination needle, not understanding the beneficial effects, so also do we need to suffer pain and confusion in life, often accompanied by a clenched fist raised to the sky, simply because we don’t understand the full picture of our life’s journey.
Satan may be the “god of this World”, but God is in full control at all times. Understanding that may help us to understand this ...
Question : Why are not all healed? Answer: God
Question : Why do some good Christians die prematurely? Answer: God
Question : Why are there natural disasters? Answer: God
Question : Why do evil men sometimes prosper? Answer: God
Here you go, in each example we cut to the chase. We acknowledge that there are unique narratives behind every story of a lack of healing or early death and there is no simple formula to account for what may seem to be a failure of faith, or the effect of sin. Each story is far too important to those affected by the drama. Yet there is a sense that the full story is known to God alone, as it straddles this World and the World to come. God is the beginning and God is the end of everyone permitted to taste life, however brief, long, happy or unhappy that may be.
The four questions are perhaps the most persistent cries from the human heart, since the days of the Psalmists. They are birthed from hearts full of desperation, despair and confusion but, no malice or hurt is intended when I say that our perspective is not always His perspective. With that in mind, let us revisit those questions and imagine what God may answer:
Why are not all healed? So that I can implement My plan for their lives and for those with whom they come into contact or influence.
Why do good Christians die prematurely? So that I can implement My plan for their lives and legacy and for those whom they influenced.
Why are there natural disasters? So that I can implement My plan for the lives of all involved.
Why do evil men sometimes prosper? I get them in the end! Read what I wrote in Psalm 73.
Yes, this is simplistic and it doesn’t consider and explore all circumstances behind each question. It may also have painted a very cold and distant picture of God, which is not the intention as it is God’s love that holds everything together, despite what it may seem. There are many factors that come into play with all four scenarios, but this is only from our perspective. We bring up the question of sin and the fallen state of creation and the wiles of the devil and his minions and all have their part to play in the Great Drama, but it all boils down to one thing.
From God’s perspective, it is all about Him. It always was and it always will be.
... I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:9-10)
The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. (Psalm 135:6)
I don’t like this God (you may well say).
Whatever you may think, this is the same God Who is more familiar as the God of love:
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)