Can Good Come From Bad?
This is an age old question. And in many ways, it is a question that tries to understand the nature of God. As people often have said, “If God is a loving God, how can there be so much evil and pain in the world?” Personally, I think this is the wrong question to be asking. I recognize that not everyone who believes there is a God, which is the first question to deal with, will accept that the Bible of the Jews and Christians is the “Word of God”.
But that is my starting point. And for a number of good reasons. But this article cannot deal with that question either, as there would not be enough space here to expand on this belief. This article then is written primarily for Christians who share my belief in God and in the Bible as God’s Word to mankind. But just because we have these strong beliefs in the Divine and the Almighty does not mean that we will never experience bad things in life. Nor does it mean that we will always understand why we experience suffering and pain. Yet I believe that we still have much more to guide us and help us deal with the heartaches of life than many people.
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I raise these questions today because of the recent experiences that I just went through. I was in Papua New Guinea serving the Lord doing the ministry of Bible translation for people groups that do not have the Bible in their language. Next thing I know, I’m being told that I have a retinal tear in my right eye and I am boarding planes to come back to Canada to get this fixed. You can read about my experiences in the article “God, Help Me Overcome My Unbelief“.
It would be so easy to turn around and say to God, “Why me? Can’t you see I’m giving my life to serve you over here in PNG?”. But I’ve always thought of that question as being a self-centered and self-absorbed question. As if the universe (or the Almighty) is supposed to bow down to our own personal likes and needs. Sometimes I do catch myself though asking the question of “Why now, Lord?” But this too I think reflects some level of lack of faith. If God really is God, then He knows what is going to happen, and so events in life never catch him by surprise. And if we really have faith in Him, then we too should not act surprised.
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I believe that the best question we should be asking when bad things happen to us is this one, “What now Lord?” In other words, we ask God, given the current circumstance that we are in, what is it that we can and should do in the situation. Sometimes God will reveal to us that there really is nothing we can do, except to hold on even stronger to our faith that He will work things out. And to believe that good can and will come out of this bad situation. Romans 8:28 says:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
I also believe that there are many times when we are to take action within these new circumstances, under God’s guidance of course. In other words, to respond according to the spirit, not according to our natural earthly desires and behaviors. Our natural inclination when something bad happens might be to get angry, or to take things out on another person. Our supernatural response though is to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18)
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This is much more that just being an optimist, or trying to be a “half full glass” kind of person. Even as we give thanks to God, acknowledging Him as our Lord through tough situations, we ask the question of “What now Lord?” We want to be proactive and to ask God to help us make the most of the situation. This is what is called “Redeeming the Time.” To “redeem” means “to rescue; to buy back”, and so when we redeem the time, we are taking back the situation and by God’s strength and direction we are making and finding ways to allow good things to happen.
You see, I believe that a life of faith is a partnership between a person and God, and both sides have their part to play. And that is how I approached the situation with my recent eye surgeries. (Yes, plural, as I needed three surgeries.) I actively trusted God to take care of me, and He did so in some amazing ways. But I also have actively been seeking how to make the most of the time I now have been given to be back home.
And what have I done? I have been actively seeking ways to be with my family and do things together that would not have been possible if I was still in PNG. I have been in meetings in our international office in Dallas, and having conversations with young aspiring missionaries. These have been precious moments that couldn’t have taken place while I was in PNG. And I am reconnecting with my home churches as well as some potential new supporting churches. And so this time off of the field for me has been one of seeking and finding great opportunities to see good things come about.
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You need to ask the question then: “How do you respond when bad things happen to you?” Is your focus upon yourself, and your sense of pain that the situation may be causing you? Or are you putting your focus upon God who will not only guide you through the tough times in life, but will provide great opportunities to see some good come out of the situation. It is a choice. What are you going to choose?