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Miranda Writes: The Problem of Pain




by Omar Miranda

He angrily responded, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

A couple of months ago I was counseling one of my 17-year-old kids who’d had a hard life. He was doing a lot better, but he’d experienced more hurt and pain, and seen more stuff, in his short life than most people experience in their whole life. Now he sat in front of me, staring blankly out the window, expressionless . . . lost in his own world. “Hey,” I said, “what’s going on with you today? It’s as if you’re not even in this room.”

He responded with frustration and anger. “I went to church last week with my mom just to get her off my back . . . it was boring! Man, church don’t ever do nothin’ to help me!”

I asked, “If you could learn about anything at all, have one burning question answered, what would it be?”

In a second he turned his entire body to face me and stared me down like a pit bull eyeballing a steak. He said angrily, “I’d wanna know, Why do bad things happen to good people? Why did He let my grandmama die? Why did He let my mama do me like that? Why ain’t my daddy around? Huh? Huh?” His eyes were locked onto mine, hoping for an answer. After realizing that I had nothing to say, he broke eye contact and slammed his fists down on the table, almost breaking it.

I was totally caught off guard by his show of raw emotion and his direct questions. I knew what he was referring to, but he had never talked about it. For months I’d been trying to reach this kid, but for some reason today, the walls of his emotional dam broke, and all his hurt and pain came flooding forth in one overwhelming tsunami. This was the core, the reason he was so depressed, full of rage, and violent.

This question is an honest and real one: if God is loving, why is there so much evil and pain in the world? This kid didn’t deserve any of it. He hadn’t asked to be born into a family with parents who had abandoned him. All he had was his grandmother, and she had been taken away. Now that he was finally connecting with his mother, she had fallen seriously ill. Why? This problem of pain is something that’s universal to humanity. People get sick, divorced, hurt, die. There’s abuse, suicide, murder, war, misery, and pain. If God is so good, why is life so hard?

Well, God has answered this question for us through the biblical book of Job. It’s an incredible true story of a man named Job who was holy, righteous, rich, and powerful. He had a prosperous business, wonderful family, and was living the good life . . . until Satan got ahold of him. Satan basically challenged God and told Him that the only reason Job was faithful was that God did good things for him. But if God would allow Satan to destroy Job’s life, Job would curse God and turn his back on Him.

You might think that Satan was trying to test Job’s goodness, righteousness, and faithfulness, but this was actually a test of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love. You see, Job’s story is just a small example of a larger fight that Satan has with God. And the entire universe is watching how it all plays out on Planet Earth. Unfortunately Job—like the rest of us humans—was caught smack-dab in the middle of this great battle between good and evil.

So God allowed Satan to do his worst to Job. In one fell swoop Job lost everything: his home, property, riches, children, and health. The only thing that was left were his wife and his friends . . . and all they did was bad-mouth him, tell him he’s sinful and to curse God and die. Through all of this Job wonders what he’s done to deserve it, but he doesn’t sin. Ultimately he passes the test (see Job 2:10).

This is not to say that Job didn’t get angry, doubtful, and depressed. I mean, he even curses the day he was born. He goes through a lot of strong emotions and asks God all kinds of questions about pain and suffering. God is big enough to take our big questions, though, so if you’re going through something, pour your heart and your emotions out to God. He’s big enough to take anything you can dish at Him.

God responds and lets Job know that He is great and Job is small. He reminds Job that His ways are unknowable, but even though Job may not understand why it’s all happening, God is still bigger than all his problems. God is loving, powerful, wise, and faithful. The story ends with God restoring everything Job had lost—and then some. It also ends with Job telling God these deep words. “No one can oppose you, because you have the power to do what you want. You asked why I talk so much when I know so little. I have talked about things that are far beyond my understanding. You told me to listen and answer your questions. I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes” (Job 42:2-5, CEV).*

Ultimately God never tells Job why these things have happened but reminds Job that He is loving, kind, righteous, and faithful. Job finally understood, as we all must, that while we’re on earth God may never reveal why bad things happen to us, but the only thing we need to know is that God is faithful and will never leave us alone.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omiranda@rhpa.org; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, editor, Insight Magazine

*Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is the editor/director of Insight Ministries and a Christian counselor and with more than 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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