18 April 2007

What do we really want when bad things happen?

When bad things happen, what is it that we really want? We ask God "why?" and get angry when there's no audible answer. What I would like to know is: would it help if you knew exactly why this or that happened? It wouldn't change the past, and it might involve information you'd rather not know (for example, what if the answer to "why did God let my baby die?" were "because he would have grown up to be a mass murderer" for one family and "because I just decided to take him from the earth" for another?).

As is the case in every situation in life, Scripture is helpful here. I'm thinking of Philippians 4:5b-7: "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The word translated "transcends" is the same word in Phil. 2:3 as "better than" - "in humility consider others better than yourselves"; it is also translated "surpassing greatness" in Phil. 3:8. So we can render 4:7 as "the peace of God, which is better than understanding, . . ." or "the peace of God, which is surpassingly greater than understanding. . . ."

What's the point of all this? I submit that it is far better to have God's peace and presence than his answers. In times of trouble, I may ask God "why?", but what I'm really saying is "I need your peace and your presence." In other words, when we hurt, we want our Father to hold us, not lecture us.

It is better by far to have the presence of peace than the presence of answers.

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