Faithing up to Evil
Faithing up to Evil
(Ps 42 NIV) For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah. As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Sitting in the middle of the devastation of a tornado.
“Now what, God?”
What to do when faced with evil times?
What do we do with the times when we feel our lives have been hit by a tornado, and there we are sitting in the middle of chaos and ruin?
How do we answer those that ask us “where is your God?”
Better to answer those questions now before the tornado hits, so that we can face the destructive power of evil with the weapons of faith, and provide an answer to those who ask us, “Where is your God?”
II. Face Up to the Challenges of Evil
A. Reality Check
- To avoid the reality of evil only makes the problem worse. We have to face up to evil, not avoid it. To pretend it doesn’t exist prolongs the problem and solves nothing.
- We can not make the problems go away by closing our eyes, or ignoring them. The monster exists whether we choose to look at it or not.
***Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself; it is more universal, more contagious, more dangerous.
Abraham J. Heschel (1907-1972)
B. Real Faces
- When evil touches those we know, it hits home more forcefully than when it is distant and detatched. We always say, not my child, or not my family. Evil comes into the world and we sit in our protective bubble, and evil, we feel, does not touch us. When, however, death or sickness carries the face of one we know and love, suddenly it has the power to burst our protective bubble. It touches our house, or our family, or our friends. Suddenly, evil comes and perches itself on our shoulder and whispers its ugly message in our ear. “I am here.”
C. Real Feelings
- When evil hits, our feelings take a beating. Often there is such pain, that we protect ourself from them by burying them deep inside. Especially in the loss of a loved one, when grief takes ahold, we bury our emotions because we are not ready to deal with them. That is not to say, however, that they are not there. It simply means that they are all the more intense. Our encounters with evil stir up emotions very much like a tornado, and many of our emotions are sent to the heights of the funnel cloud, carried on the winds for quite some time, but when the dust settles, and the wind dies down, our feelings remain raw and our hearts tender, and there we sit with the reality of pain and loss. Evil hurts.
III. Face Up to the Challenges to God
A. His Character
- The question frmes itself this way. “If God is so good, then why does he allow this, or that?”
***Because the designs of God's providence are deeply hidden and his judgment has great deeps, it happens that some, seeing that all the evils which men do go unpunished, rashly conclude that human affairs are not governed by God's providence or even that all crimes are committed because God so wills. "Both errors are impious," says St. Augustine, "especially the latter."
Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)
- There is a difference between what God allows, and what God wills. God does not will Evil, but he allows choice. Many of us are touched by the evil choices of another, but the only other alternative, is not to allow choice. But even out of the evil, God can bring good.
§ Lessons of affliction
§ Suffering may put goodness in bolder relief
§ Struggle can produce strength and health
*** I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.
Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings:
I know that God is good!
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
- Somteimes we miss the good, because we are so caught up in the evil.
- Polyanna, and the glad game. Something to be glad about. Preacher always preaching about sin and damnation and never about the goodness of God- Be glad because it is six whole days befor Sunday comes around again.
B. His Capability
***God is so powerful that he can direct any evil to a good end.
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
***God would never permit evil if he could not bring good out of evil.
Thomas Watson (C. 1557-1592)
- We question the power of God in evil times, because we ourselves feel so powerless to do anything about it.
C. His Caring
***God's love is measureless. It is more: it is boundless. It has no bounds because it is not a thing but a facet of the essential nature of God. His love is something he is, and because he is infinite, that love can enfold the whole created world in itself and have room for ten thousand times ten thousand worlds beside.
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
IV. Face Up to the Challenges of Faith
A. To Wait on God
*** Second only to suffering, waiting may be the greatest teacher and trainer in godliness, maturity, and genuine spirituality most of us ever encounter.
-- Richard Hendrix, Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 3.
*** A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened "from the outside," is not a bad picture of Advent.
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing from prison to his fiancee Maria von Wedemeyer. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 1.
B. To Trust in God
***Trustfulness is based on confidence in God, whose ways I do not understand. If I did, there would be no need for trust.
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
***Trust involves letting go and knowing God will catch you.
James C. Dobson (1936- )
C. To Hope in God
*** As I was writing the end of my sermon yesterday, the telephone rang and a student said, "Last night my child died." What could I say to him? I will say to him what I would say to anyone. It's captured in this gospel song: When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace; when all around my should gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.
-- John Hannah, "Is There Any Comfort?," Preaching Today, Tape No. 32.
When the Tornado comes, reach out to the one who calms the storms. When the tornado threatens to tear you apart, hold your world together in the knowledge of Gods Love. When you think you can’t hold on any longer, hold on still, and wait on the one who holds tomorrow. Hope in Him, who will wipe away all your tears. Your hevenly father loves you, no matter what the evil liar of the ages may say. Hold the hand of God, and He will hold on to you.