From the book
WHEN GOD DOESN’T MAKE SENSE
People who are suffering are often filled with questions about life and death, about good and evil, and about the nature of God. Why do bad things happen? The following questions express some of the issues and concerns of those going through troubled times.
Q 1. The Lord answered prayer miraculously for my son when he was eight years old. He had open-heart surgery and survived without any permanent problems. But my husband was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and we prayed for him night and day. Nevertheless, he died last January. I just can't understand why God heard my prayer for our son but allowed my husband to die. Is He there—or isn't He?
A.1. I assure you that He is there, and that your prayers for your husband received no less attention or compassion than those for your endangered son. What you've experienced is evidence of the sovereignly of God. As we have indicated, He will always be the determiner of what is best for those who serve Him.
One of the most dramatic illustrations of this divine nature occurred in the lives of my good friends, Von and Joann Letherer. When Von was just one year old, his parents noticed that he bruised badly whenever he bumped into furniture or even tumbled in his crib. They took him to their doctor, who diagnosed Von with hemophilia—the hereditary "bleeder's disease." His blood lacked the substance necessary to coagulate, actually threatening his life each time he suffered the most minor injury. There was very little treatment for hemophilia in those days, and Von was not expected to live beyond childhood. Indeed, he survived because of prayer, and because of nearly 400 pints of blood transfused by the time he reached the end of adolescence.
During those teen years when Von's life repeatedly hung in the balance, there was a young lady standing by his side. Her name was Joann, and she was his childhood sweetheart. Joann understood very well that Von's future was uncertain, but she loved him dearly. Hemophilia, they decided, was not going to determine the course of their lives. The couple was married when he was 22 and she was 19 years old.
A new crisis occurred several years later when Joann was carrying their second child. She became seriously ill and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a type of cancer that attacks the lymph glands. It was usually fatal in that day. Although a treatment program had been developed, Joann's pregnancy prevented the doctors from prescribing it for her. She and Von could have aborted their baby, of course, but chose instead to place themselves in the hands of the Lord.
They began asking for a miracle—and promptly received one. Several weeks after the initial diagnosis, the hospital repeated the laboratory and clinical tests. Doctors concluded that there was no sign of Hodgkin's disease in Joann. She has been cancer-free from that day to this.
Now, notice what occurred in this instance. As we have seen, Von was born with a painful, debilitating illness about which his father, a minister, and his mother prayed diligently. They asked repeatedly for God to heal their son. When Von got older, he began praying on his own behalf. Then Joann came along and joined the chorus. Despite these and many other petitions, the Lord chose not to heal Von's hemophilia. At 56 years of age, he is still afflicted with the disorder and suffers daily from immobile joints and related physical difficulties. Von has taken medication every day for many years, just to cope with the pain. Yet his indomitable spirit has been a witness to me and thousands of others through the years.
Why has the Lord been unwilling to heal this good man? I don't know. Some might say that his prayer team lacked faith, except for the fact that Joann was healed in response to their petitions. The same people who asked for intervention in her life were also praying for Von. In one instance the answer was yes, and in the other it was no. And life goes on. The Lord has offered no explanation or interpretation of His response, except by inference, "This is My will for you."
In this and countless other circumstances that occur within the human family, only one conclusion can be drawn: God will do what is best, and we must continue to trust Him regardless of the outcome.
To the woman whose husband recently succumbed to cancer, let me offer this word of encouragement: the Father has not lost track of your circumstances, even though they seem to be swirling out of control. He is there. Hold on to your faith in the midst of these unanswered questions. Someday His purposes will be known and you will have an eternity to talk it over. In the meantime, I pray that the Lord will help you cope with this tragic loss of, or should I say temporary separation from, your partner and friend.
Q 2. I know God is able to do miracles and even raise the dead. I have to admit, however, that it is hard to depend on Him when I'm going through dark times. Does this reveal a lack of faith?
A.2. Most of us struggle to "be anxious for nothing" when we are agitated or frightened by events in our lives. Still, we can learn to let God be God and accept His direction and judgment. But in direct response to your question, I think you may be confusing the concepts of faith and trust. There is a very old illustration that brings these two ideas into sharp focus. It goes like this: Imagine yourself near the beautiful and dangerous Niagara Falls on the border between Canada and upstate New York. Suppose a circus performer has strung a rope across the falls with the intention of pushing a wheelbarrow to the other side. If he loses his balance, he will surely drown or be crushed in the churning waters below. Just before stepping on the rope, the stunt man turns to you and says, "Do you think I can accomplish this feat?" You reply that his reputation has preceded him and that you fully believe he has the ability to walk the tightrope. In other words, you have faith that he will succeed.
But then he says, "If you really believe I can do it, how about getting in the wheelbarrow and crossing to the other side with me?" To accept that invitation would be an example of remarkable trust.
It is not difficult for some of us to believe that God is capable of performing mighty deeds. After all, He created the entire universe from nothingness. He has the power to do anything He chooses. Having faith in Him can be a fairly straightforward thing.
To demonstrate trust, however, takes the relationship a step farther. It involves the element of risk. It requires us to depend on Him to keep his promises, even when proof is not provided. It is continuing to believe when the evidence points in the opposite direction. Yes, it is getting into the wheelbarrow and making the perilous journey across the falls. I'm convinced that faith in moments of crisis is insufficient, unless we are also willing to trust our very lives to His care. That is a learned response, and some people find it more difficult than others by reason of temperament.
[IN EVERYTHING IT IS AS CHRIST DID, “NOT MY WILL BE DONE BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE FATHER.” IN ALL THINGS WE PRAY ABOUT WE MUST PUT ALL THINGS INTO HIS HANDS, WHATEVER THE OUTCOME - WE MUST REMEMBER TIME AND CHANCE CAN COME UPON ANYONE - Keith Hunt]
Q 3. There are times when I feel so close to the Lord and I can sense His approval on my life. On other occasions, it seems like He is a million miles away. How can I have any stability in my spiritual life when the Lord's assurance and presence are so inconstant?
A 3. His presence is not inconstant. It is your perception of Him that comes and goes. If your spiritual walk is dependent on the ebb and flow of emotion, your confidence as a believer will pitch and roll like a ship on a stormy sea. Very little in human experience is as undependable as the way we feel from day to day. That's why our faith must be grounded in a solid commitment of the will, in our prayer life, and in a careful study of Scripture.
Another factor is extremely important in understanding God's intervention in human affairs. It deals with the natural rhythm to our lives—the regular progression of emotions and circumstances from positive to negative to positive. We are rarely granted more than about two weeks of tranquility before something goes wrong. Either the roof springs a leak, or the Ford throws a rod, or the kids get the chicken pox, or business reverses occur. Mark Twain said life is just one darn thing after another. That's just the way it goes in this imperfect world.
[NOT ALL PEOPLE HAVE “JUST ONE DARN THING AFTER ANOTHER” AS MARK TWAIN SAID ABOUT LIFE. MY PARENTS HAD A PRETTY DARN SMOOTH, VERY LITTLE BUMPS ALONG THE ROAD OF LIFE. AS MY DAD WOULD SAY TO ME MANY TIMES, AFTER MY MOTHER DIED, “I HAVE HAD A CHARMED LIFE.” HE WOULD TELL ME OFTEN AND AS HE WROTE IN HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY, “I’VE REALLY HAD A CHARMED LIFE.” AND IT WAS TRUE; HE CAME THROUGH THE SECOND WORLD WAR UNHARMED; HE FOUND A GOOD JOB HE STAYED WITH FOR 36 YEARS; HE WAS MARRIED TO MY MOTHER FOR 53 YEARS; HE WAS WISE WITH MONEY AND HAD NO FINANCIAL PROBLEMS; HE RETIRED COMFORTABLY; HE HAD NO MAJOR SICKNESSES; HE KEPT HIMSELF FIT AND HEALTHY; HE LIVED TO BE 94. MANY HAVE SOME PROBLEMS, SOME HAVE MORE THAN OTHERS; AND YES SOME EXPERIENCE SERIOUS PROBLEMS. THEN AGAIN SOME BRING PROBLEMS ON THEMSELVES BY NOT LIVING WISELY; THERE CAN BE MANY FACTORS IN WHY PROBLEMS COME OUR WAY. CERTAINLY SOME HAVE PROBLEMS FOR THE FACT THEY SERVE GOD AND THE GOSPEL, AS THE APOSTLE PAUL AND OTHERS HAD PROBLEMS IN SERVING IN THE MINISTRY OF THE LORD - Keith Hunt]
If it's any consolation to those of you who have also been dragged up and down the emotional roller coaster, it is apparent from Scripture that even Jesus experienced this fluctuation. His ministry began officially at the Jordan River, where He was baptized by John. That must have been the most exhilarating day of his 30 years on earth. Matthew 3:16-17 tells us, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'"
What an incredible experience that must have been for the young Messiah. There are no words to describe what it meant to be ordained and blessed by the Father in this manner. But note that the next verse says, "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1). Isn't it interesting that Jesus was taken from the most emotionally exhilarating experience of his life directly into one of the most terrible ordeals he would ever encounter—a 40-day battle with Satan? Observe, also, that He didn't wander into the desert. He didn't even go there by His own design. He was led there by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil!
The upheaval in Jesus' life was only beginning. In a sense, His entire ministry is characterized by that fluctuation. After His difficult period in the wilderness, He began to receive the adulation of the crowds as word spread that a "prophet" was in their midst. Can't you imagine the scenes of hysteria as sick and deformed people pressed to get near Him?
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees began plotting to kill Jesus. He became a hated man and, eventually, a wanted criminal. They tried to embarrass and intimidate Him wherever He went. Back and forth came the praise of the common people and the animosity of the religious leaders.
Let's move to the events surrounding Jesus' final days on earth. Multitudes came to greet Him as He approached Jerusalem, shouting, "Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord" (John 12:13, KJV). A few days later, however, He went through the terrible ordeal surrounding His persecution and trial. The same people who had worshiped Him now clamored for His execution. Then He was crucified between two thieves on Mount Calvary. This darkest day in human history was followed three days later by the most wonderful news ever given to mankind. Soon, 120 disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the church was born. That was followed by incredible persecution of the saints and the martyrdom of many. There was good news one day and bad news the next. James was killed, but Peter was rescued, The early Christians went through high moments and low times as they labored to establish the church.
What I've tried to illustrate through the vicissitudes of Jesus' ministry is that there is no stability or predictability in this imperfect world. It is that way for you and me, too. We must expect the unexpected—the unsettling—the irritating. One day we'll ride high above the fray and the next we could slide under the door. So whence cometh the stability in such a topsy-turvy world? It is found only by anchoring our faith on the unchanging, everlasting Lord, whose promises never fail and whose love is all encompassing. Our joy and our hope can be as steady as the sunrise even when the happenings around us are transitioning from wonderful to tragic. That's what Scripture teaches us, and His peace is there for those who choose to take it.
[IT IS AGAIN AS SOLOMON SAID, “TIME AND CHANCE” CAN COME ON ANYONE; AND AS JOB SAID, “GOD GIVES AND GOD TAKES AWAY.” CHRISTIANS SHOULD LIVE BY WISDOM, IN ALL MATTERS. WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR THE MANY BLESSINGS WE HAVE; AND ASK THE FATHER TO GIVE US THE MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL STRENGTH, EACH AND EVERY DAY, FOR WHATEVER MAY COME OUR WAY; WE SHOULD KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT AUTOMATICALLY GIVEN A “CHARMED LIFE” BECAUSE WE ARE A CHILD OF GOD THE FATHER. WE MAY BE GIVEN SUCH A LIFE AS MY FATHER WAS, BUT IT IS NOT GUARANTEED, ESPECIALLY IF WE DO NOT HAVE AND USE WISDOM IN HOW WE LIVE. THAT IS WHY CHRISTIANS MUST ALWAYS THANK GOD EACH DAY FOR LIFE AND THE BLESSINGS OF EACH DAY, FOR WE SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE FOLLOWING DAY MAY BRING TO US OR OUR LOVED ONES - Keith Hunt]
Q 4. I've often heard that God will not abandon us when we go through the fiery trial. But I don't know what that really means. You've shown that He still lets us go through some hard times. What can we expect from Him in the stressful moments?
A 4. I may lack the words to describe what occurs to the faithful in times of personal crisis. It is virtually inexpressible. Let it be said, simply, that there is often a quiet awareness in the midst of chaos that the Lord is there and He is still in control. Millions of people have reported this persistent presence when life was systematically unraveling. On other occasions, He permits us to see evidence of His love at the critical moment of need.
I recall today that tragic time in 1987 when my four friends were killed in a private plane crash. We had been together the night before, and I had prayed for their safety on the journey home (see photo following page 134). They took off early the next morning on their way to Dallas, but never made it. I can never forget that telephone call indicating the wreckage had been found in a remote canyon—but there were no survivors! I loved those men like brothers, and I was staggered by the loss.
I was asked by the four families to speak briefly at their funeral. The untimely deaths of such vibrant and deeply loved men seemed to scream for an explanation. Where was God in their passing? Why did He let this happen? Why would He take such godly men from their families and leave them reeling in grief and pain? There were no answers to these agonizing questions, and I did not try to produce them. But I did say that God had not lost control of their lives, and that He wanted us to trust Him when nothing made sense. His presence was very near.
[I REMEMBER ATTENDING A FEAST OF TABERNACLES WAY BACK IN 1981. ON THE MORNING OF THE FIRST DAY, IN THE SERVICE, CAME THE ANNOUNCEMENT….. A FAMILY OF FOUR (PARENTS AND TWO CHILDREN) WHERE TRAVELLING TO THE FEAST, THEY WERE IN A HEAD ON COLLISION - ALL FOUR WERE KILLED AT THE SCENE. TIME AND CHANCE HAPPENED. WE NEED TO THANK OUR HEAVENLY FATHER FOR EACH DAY WE HAVE IN WHAT WE MIGHT CALL A “NORMAL” DAY. AS CHRISTIANS WE SHOULD BE SO THANKFUL THAT WE ARE CALLED AND CHOSEN, AND IF THE NEXT DAY BRINGS SORROW AND EITHER QUICKLY OR OVER A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME, WE OR OUR LOVED LOVE DIES, WE CAN KNOW WE OR THEY, WILL BE IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION AT THE COMING OF OUR LORD - Keith Hunt]
As we exited the sanctuary that day, I stood talking with loved ones and friends who had gathered to say good-bye. Suddenly, someone pointed to the sky and exclaimed, "Look at that!" Suspended directly above the steeple was a small rainbow in the shape of a smile. There had been no precipitation that day and no more than a few fleecy clouds. Yet this beautiful little rainbow appeared only above the church. We learned later that it had been hovering there through most of the funeral service. It was as though the Lord was saying to the grieving wives and children, "Be at peace. Your men are with Me, and all is well. I know you don't understand, but I want you to trust Me. I'm going to take care of you, and this rainbow is a sign to remember."
One of the people standing there had the presence of mind to take a photograph at that moment. When it was developed, we saw what no one recognized at the time (see photo preceding page 135). As you can see, there is a small private plane cradled near the center of the rainbow.
Cynics and nonbelievers will say the rainbow and the plane are coincidences that have no spiritual significance. They are entitled to their opinion. But for every member of four wounded families, and certainly for me, the Lord used that phenomenon to convey His peace to us all. He has fulfilled His promise to take care of those four courageous widows and their children.
There are other examples which beg to be shared.
Sandra Lund and her family survived Hurricane Andrew in south Florida by spending the night in a shelter. Then they returned to their home the next morning to find everything destroyed except some of the interior walls. As a bewildered Sandra strolled through the rubble, she found a note she had taped in what had been the kitchen. It was still in place, and read, "For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." On the remaining bathroom wall was another verse she had penned, "O give thanks to the Lord for He is good." Sandra got the message.
Finally, I experienced that same presence in the midst of another kind of storm. On August 15, 1990, I was playing an early morning round of basketball, as was my custom. At 54 years of age, I thought I was in great physical condition. I had recently undergone a medical examination and was pronounced to be in excellent health. I could play basketball all day with men 25 years my junior. But there were unpleasant surprises in store for me on that particular morning. I was just a few feet from where NBA legend Pete Maravich had died in my arms two years earlier. (That gym floor is hallowed for me now, as you can understand.) Suddenly, I was stricken by a moderate pain in the center of my chest. I excused myself, telling my friends I didn't feel well. Then I foolishly drove alone to a nearby emergency clinic and booked a room. This was the same hospital, by the way, where my father was taken after his heart attack 21 years earlier. So began 10 days that would change my life.
It is a great shock for a man who still thinks of himself as "Joe College" to acknowledge that he is looking death in the face. It took a while for that thought to sink in. My first afternoon in the cardiac care unit was spent working on a new book I was writing with Gary Bauer entitled Children at Risk. I had the nurses tape five possible cover designs on the wall and votes were taken as hospital staff came through. I wrote throughout the afternoon. But when the enzyme report came back about midnight and confirmed that I had suffered some damage to the heart muscle, I knew I was in serious trouble. It was later confirmed that my left anterior descending artery, the one cardiologists call the "widow maker," was entirely blocked.
Hospital staff came at me from every direction. Tubes and IVs were strung all over me. An automatic blood pressure machine pumped frantically on my arm every five minutes throughout the night, and a nurse delicately suggested that I not move unless absolutely necessary. That does tend to get your attention. As I lay there in the darkness listening to the beep-beep-beep of the oscilloscope, I began to think very clearly about the people I loved and what things did and did not really matter.
Fortunately, the damage sustained to my heart proved to be minor, and I have fully recovered. I exercise an hour each morning, seven days a week, and I'm eating some of the finest birdseed money can buy. I used to be a junk food junky, and I'm still not thrilled about cauliflower, alfalfa, squash and other things that would have made me gag a few years ago. Nor am I yet convinced that God intended for full-grown men to eat like rabbits and gophers. Surely there is a place in his scheme of things for enchiladas, pizza, donuts, ice cream, and cherry pie. Nevertheless, I'm playing by the rules these days. My diet is designed by some very petite nutritionists who look like they've never eaten a real meal in their lives. It's a sad story, I tell you, but I sure feel wonderful. Pass the yogurt, please.
[WE SEE HERE HOW DOBSON WAS NOT USING WISDOM IN EATING A BALANCED DIET THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE; A JUNK FOOD JUNKY AS HE ADMITS. THEN MOST CHRISTIANS BELIEVE GOD’S FOOD LAWS OF CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ARE ABOLISHED, SO THEY EAT, MANY OF THEM, ON A REGULAR BASIS, UNCLEAN FOODS, AS WELL AS JUNK FOOD……DOWN THE ROAD…..TROUBLES VERY OFTEN COME, SOMETIMES EVEN DEATH - Keith Hunt]
During those last nine days in the cardiac care unit, I was keenly aware of the implications of my illness. I had watched my father and four of his brothers die of the same disease. I understood full well that my time on this earth could be drawing to an end. Still, I felt the kind of inexplicable peace I described earlier. There were thousands of people praying for me around the country, and I seemed to be cradled in the presence of the Lord. I had lived my life in such a way as to be ready for that moment, and I knew that my sins had been forgiven. That is a priceless awareness when everything is on the line.
There was one brief period, however, when my confidence began to crumble. The day before I was discharged, I underwent an angiogram to determine the nature of my arterial network and the extent of my heart damage. The initial report from that procedure was much more threatening than would later be confirmed, and those ominous findings did not escape my notice. I saw the concern on the faces of technicians. I heard a young Japanese medical resident read the report and mutter in broken English, "Oh, dat not good." She might as well have said, "Dis is gonna kill you."
I was taken back to my room and left to ponder what was going on. For the first time in the long ordeal, anxiety swept over me. Modern medicine can terrorize those it seeks to serve, as laboratory reports and tentative diagnoses trickle in. You can adjust to anything if given time. It's the uncertainty that rattles the nerves. I was going through that drill while waiting for my cardiologist to come by. That's when I uttered a brief and ineloquent prayer from the depths of my soul. I said, "Lord, you know where I am right now. And you know that I am upset and very lonely. Would you send someone who can help me?"
A short time later, my good friend Dr. Jack Hayford, pastor of The Church on the Way in Los Angeles, unexpectedly walked through the door. Many of you know him from his writings and television ministry. We greeted each other warmly, and then I said, "Jack, your church is on the other side of town. Why did you take the time to come see me today?" I didn't tell him about my prayer.
I'll never forget his reply. He said, "Because the Lord told me you were lonely."
That's the kind of God we serve. He lovingly sent that good man to see me even before I had asked for help. Now admittedly, the Lord doesn't always solve our problems instantaneously, and He sometimes permits us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Eventually we'll all take that journey. But He is there with us even in the darkest hours, and we can never escape His encompassing love. I was warmly embraced by it throughout my hospitalization, even in the darkest hour.
Psalm 73:23-26 meant so much to me during my convalescence. I think you will understand why. It reads:
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Q 5. Do you believe the Lord still performs miracles today, or has the era of supernatural intervention passed?
A 5. I have no doubt that miracles still occur every day, although, as indicated earlier, I'm suspicious of people who attempt to market them on demand. I have been privileged to witness some incredible evidences of God's power in my life and in the experience of those with whom I am close. One of the most miraculous events happened to my friend, Jim Davis, when he and his family visited Yellowstone National Park in 1970. Jim was a guest on the Focus on the Family broadcast some time later, and he shared that experience with our listeners. These are his approximate words on that occasion:
My wife and I were both raised in Christian families, and we were taught the power of prayer. But we were not living very godly lives. We did not pray together or have a family altar in our home. About that time, she made a wonderful commitment to the Lord and began praying for me. She bought me a research Bible, and I began to get into the Word. Things started to change in my heart, but I still wasn 't mature spiritually.
That summer, we went on a vacation to Yellowstone Park with four other couples. Several of these friends went fishing the next day in an aluminum boat, and one of the ladies hooked a trout. She leaned over to net the fish, and her glasses fell off. They immediately sank to the bottom of the lake. She was very disturbed by the loss because it was the beginning of their vacation, and she could not drive or read without the glasses. She also got severe headaches when she didn't wear them.
That night, everyone was talking about the glasses and how unfortunate it was that they were lost. Then my wife said, "No sweat. Jim is a great scuba diver. He'll go out and find them for you."
"Hey, thanks a lot," I said. "Do you know that Yellowstone Lake has 172 miles of shoreline, and every tree is coniferous and looks exactly the same? There's no way I can get a fix on where you guys were when the glasses went overboard. Besides, the water is very, very cold—50 degrees. They won't even allow you to water-ski out there. And I don't have a wet suit—just a pair of fins and a snorkel."
My objections fell on deaf ears. She told me privately that she intended to pray that the Lord would help me find those glasses.
Yeah, sure, I thought.
The next morning we got in the boat and headed about a half mile out from shore.
"Uh, where do you think you dropped them?" I asked.
"It seems like about here," someone said.
Well, I got in the water, and it was freezing. I took hold of a rope, and the boat dragged me along the surface as I looked at the bottom. The water was about 10 feet deep and crystal clear. We made a swath about 50 feet long and then turned and worked our way back. After about 20 minutes of this search, I was just chilled to the bone. I prayed a little prayer and said, Lord, if You know where those glasses are, I sure wish You 'd tell me. I wasn 't convinced He knew. It's a very big lake.
But a little voice in my mind said, I know exactly where they are. Get in the boat, and I'll take you to them. Well, I didn't tell anyone about this message because I was too embarrassed to say it. But about 20 minutes later I was just shivering, and I said, Lord, if You still know where those glasses are, I'll get in the boat.
I called out to my friends and said, "We're in the wrong place. They're over there."
I got in the boat and pointed to a spot that I thought the Lord was telling me about. The driver said, "No, we weren't out that far." But we kept going, and I said, "Stop. Right here. This is the place."
I jumped back in the water and looked down. We were right on top of those glasses. I dove to the bottom and came up with the prize. It was one of the clearest answers to prayer I've ever experienced, and it set me on fire spiritually. It was also an incredible witness to my wife and all my friends. And I'll never forget those sparkling glasses at the bottom of Yellowstone Lake.
As dramatic as this story is, I can personally vouch for its authenticity as Jim told it. There are many witnesses who remember that remarkable day on Yellowstone Lake. What I don't know is why the Lord chose to reveal Himself in that way, or why He doesn't do it more often. Clearly, He has plans and purposes to which we are not privy……….
Do miracles still occur today as they did in Bible times? Yes, but they usually take place in such a manner as to preserve the need for faith. Even those who witness them must choose whether or not to believe in their validity. I choose to believe!
Q 6. Whenever Christians talk about pain and suffering, someone can be counted on to quote Romans 8:28, "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." But how can that be true literally? You have acknowledged that Christians go through the same kind of suffering that unbelieving people do. So how can it be said that all their difficulties somehow "work together for good"?
A 6. First, it must be noted from this Scripture that Paul didn't say all things were good. He wasn't claiming that death, sickness, and sorrow were really positives in disguise. But he did tell us that God has promised to take these hardships and bring good from them. As long as what happens to me is within the perfect will of the Father, I have no reason to fear—even if it costs me my life. It is an article of our faith that we can trust Him to do what is best, even if it appears contrary to our own wishes or the prevailing attitudes of the day. I'll answer the question a different way. The laws of physics tell us that energy in the universe is never lost. It is simply transformed from one state to another. So it is with human experience. Nothing is ever lost entirely. God uses every happening to accomplish His divine purposes. For example, I mentioned in chapter 1 that Jim Elliot and his companions were speared to death by Waorani Indians in Ecuador. Their sacrifice seemed like an unmitigated tragedy and a total waste of human life. In God's scheme of things, however, it had a purpose. Each of those Indians came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior in the years that followed. The gospel was firmly planted among their tribesmen. Thus, Elliot and his fellow missionaries will rejoice throughout eternity with the men who took their lives. That is "good." Romans 8:28, then, must be interpreted from this eternal perspective, rather than a temporal, earthbound point of view.
There are innumerable other examples. Remember the death of Stephen, the first believer to be martyred in the days following the crucifixion of Jesus? What was accomplished for God by the terrible stoning of this faithful apostle? Well, it caused early believers to flee from Roman persecution. As they went, they carried the news of Jesus' death and resurrection to the far reaches of the known world. The "church" was planted in countless communities and cities where the Good News would not otherwise have been heard.
Let's cite an illustration closer to home.
A few months ago, we received a phone call here at Focus on the Family from a Mr. Greg Krebs. He wanted to get a message through to me, and this is what he told our telephone representative. Mr. Krebs and his wife have a 21-year-old son named Chris, whom they had been advised to abort when still in the womb. They chose to give him life, and he was born with cerebral palsy. He is also profoundly retarded. His parents do not regret their decision to bring him into the world, because they believe that all life is precious. They are thankful for this son, who has touched their lives in warm and wonderful ways.
"God has used him as he is," Mr. Krebs said.
Then he described something that happened when Chris was just seven years old. He said, "My wife worked in a hospital at the time, and I had taken Chris with me to pick her up. She was late getting off, so Chris and I waited for her in one of the family rooms. There was another man there who was not well dressed and, in fact, was a little smelly. I went to the nurses' station to ask how much longer my wife would be, and when I returned, I saw Chris sitting by the man. The man was sobbing, and I wondered what Chris had done to offend him. I began to apologize.
‘I’m sorry if my son offended you,’ I said.
The man replied, ‘Offended me? Offended me? Your son is the only person who has hugged me in the last 20 years!’
I realized at that moment Chris had a more Christlike love for this man than I did.”
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Krebs, for loving and valuing your son despite his limitations. I agree wholeheartedly that there is no "junk" in God's value system. He loves every one of us the same, and He uses each person—even the profoundly retarded—to accomplish some part of His purpose. He will also use your pain, although it is not always immediately possible to interpret it.
To repeat my thesis, when we submit ourselves to the sovereign will of the Lord, we can say with confidence that in all things—yes, in all things—God works for the good of them who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
[IT IS TRUE, BUT SOMETIMES IT IS WEEKS OR MONTHS OR YEARS, BEFORE WE SEE THE GOOD THAT CAME FROM THE THE “NOT SO GOOD” AS WE MIGHT HAVE LOOKED AT IT, DURING THE TIME IT WAS HAPPENING - Keith Hunt]
TO BE CONTINUED