Lately, I’ve been joking that Doc Brown, from the movie Back to the Future, would tell Marty McFly, “Whatever you do Marty, don’t set the Delorean for 2020.” What a year it’s been and it not even quite half over. With the pandemic, the lockdown and the ensuing financial crisis, then a reprehensible murder of a black man by a police officer, the ensuing protests and then riots, looting and destruction of property. It’s no surprise that the murder hornets saw what was going on in the United States and decided to go back to where they came from. On a personal level, we might be asking God, why? Why did I get this illness? Why did I lose this loved one? Why did I did I get furloughed from my job? Why do I have to face this financial crisis? Why did I lose my business? Whatever the crisis, you name it, we wonder, “Why God?”
A few years ago, my friend Larry, who happens to read through the Bible a couple times a year (for about 48 years now), was telling me about a verse he read that seemed to fly up and appear out of nowhere. He said it seemed as if he’d never read it before. The verse was Job 37:13. When I read it, it seemed as if I also was reading it for the first time.
It says, “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.” The context of the verse is nature, wind and snow and ice, but by application, it refers to everything that happens in our lives. It’s saying that in His sovereignty, God causes all these difficulties to happen. And then it describes God’s purposes. People often comment on the random nature of this world by saying “stuff happens.” But this verse says it’s not random but by God’s design. God has purposes to accomplish through the stuff that happens.
Stuff happens because God corrects us. Job 37:13 starts with the phrase, “whether for correction.” God gets our attention and teaches us to trust Him in tough situations. All these events are corrective and growth oriented, not to punish us but to teach us. My friend Barry Leventhal is one of the great dads and grand dads of all time. His kids are grown now but when his oldest was in 5th grade, he was especially mischievous. After some incident at school, his teacher told the boy that she was going to let his dad know what happened and his dad was going to punish him. This young boy kept insisting that his dad would never punish him. Finally, the teacher, frustrated, asked why he would say that. And the boy replied, my dad never punishes me, he only disciplines me. Here was a ten year old who understood that his father loved him so much and would never act in a punitive way. Instead, for his child’s good, he would correct or discipline him. That’s what this verse is saying. The stuff that happens in our lives is designed by our loving Father to bring correction to our lives, not punishment.
Stuff also happens because God wants the good of this world. God’s second purpose mentioned in the verse is that these difficult events are “for His world.” Natural disasters which seem devastating can actually do good for the world. I learned this principle years ago in a college course called “Nature Study.” Our professor explained the value of forest fires. While seemingly awful, the forest needs them. Forest fires clear out the brush that needs removal. He showed us that some pine cones would only release their seed under intense heat. The fire was needed to replant trees while at the same time, it destroyed invasive plant species. Over the long haul, the seemingly terrible events of a forest fire actually renewed the earth. God can use the fiery events of 2020 to bring good to the world. Psalm 120:1 says “In my distress, I cried to the Lord, and he heard me.” It’s my hope that this would be the good outcome of this difficult time; that people would turn to the Messiah Jesus and trust in him to deal with the crises we’re facing. And that will not only bring good to individual lives but the impact will be to bring about a better and more just world.
The ultimate reason stuff happens is because God loves us. The third purpose the verse mentions is “for lovingkindness.” The word for lovingkindness is Chesed, God’s loyal love. He faithfully loves us and knows what’s best for us. Even what seems terrible maybe an act of God’s kindness. Here’s an example of that. One man got caught in a governmental corruption scandal and actually went to prison. His name was Chuck Colson and the scandal is known as Watergate. Colson went from working for the President to a prison term. He later said that God allowed this event, the lowest part of his life, to bring him to faith in Messiah Jesus. As a result of that prison sentence, Chuck Colson, started Prison Fellowship that has touched thousands of lives for Messiah Jesus. God allowed all that to happen to Chuck Colson to show him His great and loyal love.
So why does bad stuff happen? Why does God allow the dangers and difficulties and distresses of life to occur. He tells us in Job 37:13. So, when we ask “Why God?,” God answers by saying it’s all part of His good plan for us and for the world.