When speaking with non-believers, it is common to hear them complain about God. One of the main complaints is that God could do a better job of tending to this world. They will say that all the problems in the world would go away if only God would do a better job.
Further, they contend that an all-knowing, all-loving God should be able to prevent heartache and struggle. If there is a God, they say, He should do a better job of taking care of those people He supposedly loves.
Interestingly, there were believers in the first century who felt the same way. They were facing hardship and blaming God as well. So, the earthly brother of Jesus, James, wrote to them to help them understand God's nature (and ours, as well) better. "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures" (Jas. 1:12-18). James reminds us of three vital principles:
God Doesn't Prevent Hardship In Life: -- James admits we do face trials. Tests will come to us. That is a fact of life any honest person will admit. But, instead of complaining about the hardships we face, we are to view them as opportunities for growth and maturity. God realizes that trials are not fun. There is no pleasure in pain. There seems little purpose in obstacles and challenges. But, again, an honest person will admit that these sorts of challenges build character, make people wiser and stronger. Tests, as unpleasant as they are, bless us by making us grow up.
And, James reminds us, the tests don't come from God. He doesn't tempt us to sin, it is our own weaknesses that cause our problems. When we ignore God's Will and live in our own thinking, we make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are horrible, such as a drunk driver killing an innocent person. God didn't make that happen. He grieves at this sort of tragedy, just as we do. But God will allow us to choose what path we will walk. As humans, we often go the wrong way, and when we do, we make a mess and then somebody pays for that mess. Sometimes the guilty pay, sometimes the innocent pay. But the tests come from our rebellion to God's Will, not from an arbitrary, unloving God.
God Doesn't Want Sin In Our Lives: -- Next, James tells us plainly that God is not affected by sin, nor does He lure people to sin. Some would say if God is all powerful, He would keep us from sinning, and therefore remove all the suffering in the world. But that fails to understand God's nature. God is inherently (it is His nature) good. Being good and the source of all good things, He will not tempt you to do something you shouldn't or something that is bad for you or others.
But, God does respect us. In fact, He honors us so much that He will allow us to choose right and wrong, good and bad, smart and dumb. If you want to follow God you can. Or if you want, you can ignore God and go your own way. God demonstrated this principle in the beginning when He put Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die'" (Gen. 2:15- 17). God allowed the man and woman a choice. When they finally gave in to Satan (not to God), they sinned and then had to live with the consequences of their choices.
That still goes on today. In fact, notice how James puts it. I have a desire for something. It is not good for me, or maybe it is not good for others. But I want it. Maybe it is sexual, maybe it is dishonest, maybe it is cruel. But I want it. So I feed my desire and then I am caught. My wants lead me to sin, and sin leads me to death. Yes, I suffer, but it was my own selfishness and lusts that caused the problem. Worse, if I have involved others in my sin, they will suffer as well.
God hates every bit of this. He does love us and wants what is best for us. He does not delight in our struggle. He does not enjoy catching us in our failures. God's heart is broken every time any one of us sins. God seeks only our good. So, every good and perfect gift comes from God. All the blessings we enjoy, any good we experience, finds their source in God. And God is not shifty; He is open, kind and generous. God wants your life to be happy and full. That is why He wants us to stay out of sin. Sin leads to heartache and suffering. God leads us back to happiness and comfort.
God Does Seek To Give Life: -- God chose us. He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth. He did this so we could be a kind of firstfruits of all His creation. Notice what these words mean.
We made a mess of our world. People suffer, some justly, many unjustly. God sees our dilemma, understands our mess. Yet, He loves us so much, He chose us. That is, He saw our sin and still wanted to make life better for us. So, He found a way to give a fresh, a new birth. A renewal that allows us to escape the penalty that comes with sin. This allows us to be a firstfruit of His creation.
Firstfruits are foreign to us today. But in ancient times, man understood this concept well. The firstfruits were the pick of the crop, the very best of the harvest or the slaughter. The very best went to God, first. He got the first fruits, because it was the very best. This tells us that God wants the very best in your life. He wants you to be the best part of His creation. He seeks good for you, not pain for you.
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly...but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6,8). Here we are, stuck in the mess we made because we gave in to our desires. Still, God loved us while we were sinners and proved His love for us in that Jesus died for us.
God wanted the best for your life so much, that He gave His only Son to die in your place. "God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him" (1 Jno. 4:8,9). Yes, God is a loving God. In fact, He loved us so much He sent a solution to the mess we made. Jesus died so that we could live. And the life He offers is not some dreary, tired, depressing path. Jesus says, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (Jno. 10:10b). God hates our pain, and has done all He can do to enrich our lives. god cannot do better than He has done.
So, You Can Blame God's Choices: -- Many people in our world misunderstand God. They think He is some sort of angry, manipulative, incompetent know it all. He sees the problems we have, and does nothing. He claims to be loving, but He leaves us in pain and suffering. Many people do indeed blame God for His choices.
But, as we have seen, God is not the author of evil. He wants only what is best for us. And, like any loving parent, He gives what is best, day in and day out. Yet, He leaves us to make our own choices. And, if our choices are based on our evil desires, those choices often lead to pain and heartache. Too many blame God for their problems, when it is always the result of sin and selfishness in someone's life. Sadly, this means that innocent people suffer, not because it is good, but because God chooses to honor our choices.
Or, You Can Claim God's Promises: -- Instead of blaming God for your problems, why not claim His gift of an abundant life? As we have seen, God doesn't call you to drudgery, He wants you to be the best of His creation. God's promise is sure, since He never changes, never wavers, never fails to keep His promise. So, Jesus assures us, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My Word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (Jno. 5:24).
Paul writes, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus ahve been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in ourder that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3,4). You can have assurances of God's love and mercy. You can rise to walk in newness of life. You can experience a rebirth when you turn to God in faith, through His Son, and then are baptized into His Son. When that happens in your life, and in your heart, you will receive all the promises, all the blessings, all the good which God has prepared for you. Stop blaming God for your problems, and start claiming all that He has promised.
By David Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 55, No. 44, Nov. 3, 2006.
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