Since I published my last post I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of “why do bad things happen.” The more I think and go through my bible study, the more upset it makes me. This seems to be a topic on which many Christians have a disconnect. Trials and tribulations, pain and suffering seems to be something that believers don’t think they should – or won’t – endure, particularly those taken by prosperity and televangelists. At the very least those Christians don’t understand why “bad” things happen when they believe they have so much faith and love for our Father, thinking they are to be protected from any manner of bad things.
TV preachers, particularly any asking for “seed money” or utilize the scriptures to push self help ideals push a philosophy of having faith = financial success, or, in the case of the Joel Osteen types, faith = perfect life, which is so absolutely absurd it only further proves how many professing Christians have never actually cracked open a Bible and read through its pages.
After I wrote the original post on “Why Do Bad Things Happen?” I began going through Romans, the first of the books by Paul in the New Testament. This book deals partly with Christians enduring “bad things.” Jesus and Paul both point out that Christians will indeed suffer and enduring that suffering is explicitly part of the plan. Paul makes the case that enduring those troubles is not just part of the plan, its a testimony of our faith. Our Lord, Yeshua Himself wrote seven epistles contained within the book of Revelation. Each of these end with a message to the overcomer, a promise to those who persevere through the challenges described in each of the letters.
Throughout the Bible, believers have had trials they must endure and numerous reasons why. A list put together by Hal Lindsey and Dr. Chuck Missler’s wife Nancy Missler identifies ten different reasons why Christians have trials:
- To glorify God (Dan 3:16-18, 24-25, among many others)
- Discipline for known sin (Heb 12:5-11; James 4:17; Rom 14:23; 1 Jn 1:9)
– Not always the case, The Book of Job is a counter example to this
- To prevent us from falling into sin (1 Pet 4:1-2)
- To keep us from pride (2 Cor 12:7-10) (Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”)
- To build Faith (1 Pet 1:6-7) – drawing us into intimacy with him
- To cause Growth (Rom 5:3-5)
- To teach obedience and discipline (Acts 9:15-16; Phil 4:11-13)
- To Equip us to comfort others (2Cor 1:3-4)
- To prove the reality of Christ to us (2 Cor 4:7-11)
- For testimony to the angels (Job 1:8; Eph 3:8-1; 1 Pet 1:12)
All of these are important to remember. I think it is also important to remember that more than one of these could be in effect at any given point. They may also ebb and flow as you move on through life. However, I want to concentrate on their ultimate purpose for us: spiritual maturity.
In Romans Paul writes:
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worth patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope:Romans 5:3-4, King James Bible
This passage shows us that tribulation starts a chain reaction that defines the character of a Christian. That word – Character – is important for us as Christians, at least, it should be. How we handle every situation is a direct demonstration of the work done in our life by the grace of The Father. The measure of our character and the fruit we bear because of it are the defining traits of our walk with Christ. Suffering is a training program for all of us, equipping us to deal with the world’s troubles and gives us the experience necessary to help others navigate the waters we’ve already tread. This process takes us from “Born Again” believers to spiritually mature believers that are walking the walk, as well as talking the talk. Hopefully, as a result, we are more understanding of the process of “purifying” ourselves and gaining a glimpse towards the holiness necessary to dwell with the Father.