Why God, Why?
Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13
When I first spent a few weeks in the Emergency Room as a medical student, I was shocked by how many bad things happened in the world. I realized that it wasn’t if something bad happened, it was just a matter of when. We live in a broken world where terrible things occur. Cancer strikes. People drink and drive. Lives and relationships are shattered by tragic events. We may never be prepared for it, but all life ends and to exist at all means we’re guaranteed to experience trials and pain. This is a reality we cannot escape.
This apparently depressing truth was emphasized by Peter in today’s passage. In it, he said we should not be surprised when bad things happen. He didn’t offer a defense as to why God allows this. He just accepted that this is the way God has allowed the world to work. He did, however, teach that we have a proper response to our trials for which we are responsible.
Like other passages (James 1:2, Hebrews 12:7), Peter taught that God uses pain to shape us. When we’re comfortable, fat, and happy, we simply feel no need to grow, change, or to seek God. It is often only when we’re miserable that we turn to God, seeking him, his will, and his help. Peter didn’t say that God directly causes these disasters to teach us a lesson. He did, however, insist that we have an appropriate response to suffering.
It would be tragic if we went through trials without any growth or change. Bad things happen, but if we learn nothing from them, or, even worse, if we allow them to make us bitter and hateful, then we’ve failed in the trial. When we experience life’s difficulties, we must always go to God, asking what he wants us to do with them. Usually, we go to God simply asking him to take away the trial. We pray – God, fix this situation. When usually, he’s trying to use the situation to work on us. And that should be our prayer – God, fix me.
We often demand an explanation. Why God? We’re not guaranteed an explanation in this life though. Job had terrible things happen to him and was never provided a reason. We are promised though, that God uses evil for good. If we turn to him, even though all we see is disaster, he can make something beautiful out of our mess.