A few days ago, a house on the Sunshine Coast in Australia was destroyed in a fire that was possibly started by faulty Christmas lights. A family of five were sleeping inside at the time but only the father managed to escape the flames. The neighbours found him in the driveway “burnt from head to toe” and screaming in pain. There is some speculation in the press that his wife might have been able to save herself but she stayed with her children, two of whom were disabled. As a father of three, my heart breaks for that man. When he wakes up in hospital he will learn the awful news that he has just lost his entire family.
I wish I could go to that man in the burn unit and say something to ease his pain but I don’t know what I would say. However, I know what I wouldn’t say:
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? (Heb 12:7, NIV)
I have just read something that has my blood boiling. There is steam coming out of my ears. Here’s a paraphrase:
You should view every hardship in life as God’s loving discipline. God is sovereign and everything that happens to you – whether good or bad – is for your good. Indeed, it is proof of His love for the Lord disciplines those He loves.
Apparently this is meant to be a comfort to people in pain. Maybe you just lost your wife and kids in a house-fire but be comforted! God did it. Why? Because He loves you.
Sheesh. And we wonder why sinners aren’t running into our churches.
One year ago I wrote that God was not responsible for Job’s loss no matter what Job 1:21 says. I still get emails on a weekly basis that say, “How dare you contradict the Bible. How dare you say that God is not the author of evil.” How can I say it? Because Jesus said it:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (Joh 10:10)
Isn’t it strange that most Christians would hesitate to tell the burned man that his family and home were destroyed by the devil – “you can’t blame Satan for everything” – yet they are quick to point the finger at our loving Father. “God did it.” But why would God kill three little kids in their sleep? Who can say. God is mysterious.
Forgive me for ranting, but this is insane! It is exactly this sort of madness that makes the church look like a bunch of whackos. This kind of thinking dishonors the name of the Lord. Worst of all, it keeps us passive when we should be taking a stand and fighting back. Instead of resisting the devil so that he flees, we submit to the devil and say, “The Lord is disciplining us. Oh we’re so loved!”
And this is why I am writing. There is a time for enduring hardship and there is a time for resisting the devil and you need to know the difference. As usual, Jesus is our role model. He did not consider sickness a hardship to be endured – He resisted it. Neither did He consider demonic oppression a hardship to be endured – He resisted it. At times He even resisted death by raising a little girl and a dead man. He spoke to storms and said we would speak to mountains. Jesus did all these things to show us how the Father responds to the devil’s work. And yes, I have no problem attributing sickness to the devil:
You know… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. (Act 10:38, NIV)
I said I didn’t know what I would say to the man in the burn unit, but Jesus would know. He is the “God of all comfort who comforts us in all of our troubles” (2 Cor 1:3-4). If I was in a position to visit that man I would trust the Holy Spirit to show me what to say and do. Sadly, accidents are a fact of life and sometimes innocent children die. But there’s healing for everything. You want to talk about the mystery of God? Then marvel at how He is able to bring good even out of the most awful of circumstances.
The bad news of dead religion has reduced Christians to commentators on the sidelines of life. If something good happens, we congratulate each other for sowing into kingdom principles. If something bad happens, we say the Lord did it because He loves us. This is a nauseating, useless, and demonic theology. Live this way and you will never display the manifold wisdom of God to rulers and authorities in heavenly realms (Eph 3:10).
I don’t normally write reactive posts like this but I just had to vent. I’m heartbroken for that man in the burn unit and I’m heartbroken over a church that gets its theology from Job’s friends.
I began by paraphrasing some bad writing. I’m going to finish by paraphrasing something that’s pure gold. You can then decide which you will trust in.
See Jesus! See the finished work of the cross! Your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. You may have problems and hardships and yes thick darkness is over the peoples. But the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Those mountains are coming down! You may be a worm, little Jacob, but God Himself will help you. He will make you into a threshing sledge with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. (Is 41:13-14, 60:1-2)