This week was our final week of the "Got Questions?" series. We began the night with a simple time of discussion of silly questions like "What is the most exotic/strangest food you have ever eaten? We had some fun discussion during this time. Then our worship set included "Take It All" (Hillsong United), "In The Secret", "Awesome God-Majesty and Mystery" (Vicky Beeching), "Hold Us Together" (Matt Maher), then at the end of the night we did "Always" (Kristian Stanfill).
As I was preparing for this last message I decided to not draw a question out of the box. As I actually looked at the remaining questions, I felt like we should explore the question "Why", more specifically "Why do bad things happen to me?" and "Why am I going through this tough situation?". We first discussed how the world would answer this question. Many people today believe that it has to do with karma, and that you bring things on yourself, etc. We know that karma does not exist and we must look at what the Bible says in regard to these tough questions.
At the root of it, bad things occur to us because of sin. We looked at the life of King David and the life of Joseph to look at how sin causes our negative circumstances in life.
1) Our circumstances are brought on by our own sin
As we read about the lowest point of David's life in 2 Samuel 11-12, we see that David goes through a terrible situation of his own son dying. However this is a situation that is a result of sin in his own life. David committed one sin which led to another and another. First his abuse of power by not being with his army at war, then lust when he saw Bathsheba, to abuse of power again by having her brought to him, to adultery, lying, and eventually conspiracy to have Uriah (Bathsheba's husband) killed. The son that he conceived with Bathsheba died as a result of the sin in his life- 2 Samuel 12:14.
2) Our circumstances are brought on by sin around us
In Genesis 37 Joseph's brothers sell him because of their jealousy toward him. They did not like the fact that he was the most loved son by their father. Then Joseph's dreams indicate that his brothers would one day bow down to him. This all angered them and they sinned in their anger by capturing him and selling him into slavery. Joseph ends up working under Potiphar and become's very prosperous because God blesses him, but after being lied about by Potiphar's wife he ends up thrown in prison. Joseph must have wondered why he was going through these tough situations as a result of his brothers sin.
It's ok to ask "why" when going through a tough situation, but it is more important to seek "what for" meaning what can God do through these tough circumstances in my life. I read a quote by Pete Wilson the other day that said "It's not wrong to ask why, but don't stake your faithfulness on getting a satisfactory answer". While sin is at the root of every negative circumstance in life, we may never really know why we go through a situation. However we can seek what God can do in our life and through us as a result of what we are facing. Here are some of the things that God may be doing in our life in these tough times.
-To correct us/teach us/get our attention
We looked at this in the life of David as he lost his son. God used this to get his attention. It was in this tough situation that David repented and wrote Psalm 51. You can not continue to run from God and live in sin and not suffer any consequences. Sometimes God allows you to go through a tough situation in order to get your attention.
-To further the gospel and teach others
After David was confronted by the prophet Nathan he wrote Psalm 51 and in verses 12-13 he says that he wants to help others not follow in his wrong footsteps. When we make a mistake, we should hope that others will not make the same mistake. God can use you to help others in making better decisions.
-To test our allegiance and see if we will follow God
I think about Abraham and Sarah's faithfulness to follow God through their tough circumstances. Sarah was unable to conceive, and while they first tried to take things into their own hands by having Abram (at the time) have a child with Hagar. Eventually though they passed the test of being faithful to God and following Him. God promised Abraham he would be the father of a nation, but then asked him to sacrifice his own son Isaac. Think about it in your own life, what if God asked you to get rid of your most prized possession or person in order to follow Him. Could you do it? Abraham feared God and was willing to do whatever God wanted Him to do. I'm sure that Abraham was apprehensive about it, but he loved God and went to sacrifice Isaac. Thankfully God was testing Abraham and stopped him provided a ram for the sacrifice. I read a line from the book "The Heart of the Story" that we are going through as a church that says: "Abraham and Sarah passed the only test that God cares about. The one He still puts in front of us today. They trusted Him." It goes on to say that because of their faithfulness that God's story continued. I think that even if they had not been faithful that God's story would have continued, but it would have continued with someone else.
As we closed I challenged the students that they may never know why they are going through a tough situation, but they can choose how they will react. It is our choice if we will allow God to grow us and be used for His glory. Because God will be glorified regardless, but as the example I used with Abraham and Sarah, will He be glorified by us or by someone else? We ended by singing "Always" and spending some time in prayer asking God to shape us and use us through the tough circumstances in our lives.